JetBlue Airways is expanding in 2021 with 24 new routes across the US and Central America.
Four new cities will be added to JetBlue's route network including Miami; Key West, Florida; Guatemala City, Guatemala; and Los Cabos, Mexico.
Mint business class will also be expanding to its 19th destination, Miami, with two daily flights to Los Angeles.
JetBlue Airways on Thursday announced a 24-route expansion for 2021 that sees the airline grow into new cities, expand traditionally smaller markets, and build its West Coast presence to help bolster recovery efforts in the new year.
Four new cities are being added to JetBlue's route map in the expansion, with Miami being the most notable. JetBlue has long avoided the South Florida destination in favor of nearby Fort Lauderdale, but the airline will now fly directly into Miami International Airport with service to most of its bases on the East and West Coasts.
Elsewhere in Florida, JetBlue will also begin flying directly to remote Key West. Overseas, Los Cabos, Mexico, and Guatemala City, Guatemala, will also see their first JetBlue flights in the new year as more countries open their borders to Americans in the wake of the pandemic.
The announcement comes as JetBlue prepares to enter a new era with a new jet, the Airbus A220-300. Scheduled to arrive at the airline in December, the next-generation jet will replace some of the oldest aircraft in JetBlue's fleet and is expected to come with a state-of-the-art cabin complete with touch-screen televisions, on-demand movies and shows, and free in-flight WiFi.
Here's where JetBlue Airways is flying in 2021.
JetBlue is expanding its South Florida presence with the addition of Miami, complementing existing service to West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale.
Four routes will be given to Miami with non-stop service from JetBlue's bases in New York, Los Angeles, Newark, and Boston starting February 11, 2021. Each except Los Angeles will see four-times-daily service while the transcontinental route will be limited to two daily flights.
Miami has been notably absent in JetBlue's Florida route network, but low-cost airlines typically avoid the city in favor of smaller alternatives, including Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in JetBlue's case. There's also no shortage of tough competitors on JetBlue's Miami routes including American Airlines, United Airlines, and Delta Air Lines.
The Miami-Los Angeles route will also see Mint business class service operated by a larger Airbus A321 aircraft in a two-class configuration. Miami is Mint's 19th destination as the service is limited to select high-demand routes.
Premium flyers will get to experience a newly-introduced refreshed Mint product that includes a new food and drink menu from the Delicious Hospitality Group, noise-isolating headphones, wellness kits, and new bedding to fully enjoy the lie-flat experience. And even economy flyers will get a high-tech cabin with touch-screen, in-flight entertainment systems and a self-serve snack bar.
While the pandemic was the impetus for the Miami addition, Scott Laurence, JetBlue's head of revenue and planning, told Business Insider that JetBlue was always going to expand to the city to round out its South Florida offering.
"We get the opportunity to serve all South Florida as destinations and we've become more relevant to the customers around South Florida by complementing our large presence in Fort Lauderdale with service at Palm Beach and Miami," Laurence said.
The pandemic has seen airlines more willing to serve airports they've traditionally avoided to go where the customers are. Southwest Airlines similarly moved into Miami International during the pandemic and has plans to expand to major airports in Chicago and Houston in 2021.
Key West, Florida
While Miami is further south than JetBlue is used to in Florida, Key West will soon take the cake as the airline's southernmost destination in the Lower 48.
Boston and New York will both see routes to the Conch Republic with weekender service operating on Thursdays, Fridays, Sundays, and Mondays starting on February 11, 2021. It will be the only non-stop route between New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport and Key West, and both routes will compete with American's routes from Boston and New York's LaGuardia Airport.
JetBlue's smallest jet, the Embraer E190, will operate the flights due to airport limitations. Passengers will have to endure one of the oldest cabin layouts in JetBlue's fleet but still enjoy in-flight entertainment, above-average legroom in economy, and free in-flight WiFi, among other perks.
And while JetBlue isn't blocking middle seats for social distancing anymore, the E190s won't see 100% capacity, according to Laurence. Flights will be capped to ensure the jets have no trouble accessing the airport, leaving some empty seats on the aircraft.
Laurence also said that Key West is a key market for the Airbus A220 as the new jet has better performance capabilities than the E190.
Los Cabos, Mexico
JetBlue is no stranger to Mexico but Los Cabos has been absent from the airline's route network, until now. New York and Los Angeles will both see once-daily service to the Baja California Sur vacation destination starting June 17, 2021.
Both routes will see competitors from countless US airlines with the most on the Los Angeles route. American, United, Alaska Airlines, Spirit Airlines, and Southwest all serve the route from Los Angeles, but Laurence isn't worried about competition.
"One of the things that allow us to punch above our weight and come into markets that are crowded with competitors is we far away have the best product out there," Laurence said. "I think that product and our crew members allow us to play in some of these very well-served markets."
From New York, where JetBlue has more brand recognition as the city's self-described "hometown airline," the only competitors are American, United, Delta, and Eastern Airlines. JetBlue, though, should dominate the summer season as the only airline with daily service from New York.
Mexico has remained open to Americans during the pandemic while others have closed their borders and Cancun has become a popular getaway for tropical escapes south of the border. Cancun will see four new routes begin on March 4, 2021, to Las Vegas, Austin, Nashville, and Sacramento.
These point-to-points routes are unique for JetBlue in that they don't touch one of the airline's traditional bases. And in true point-to-point fashion, they also won't be operated daily as each route will see up to three-times-weekly flights.
They won't be without competitors, however, as JetBlue will have to fight for business on routes to Nashville and Austin. Southwest, Spirit, and Mexico's VivaAerobus all plan to serve the Nashville-Cancun route in 2021, Cirium data shows, while Southwest, Spirit, and Sun Country Airlines will fly between Austin and Cancun.
Guatemala City, Guatemala
JetBlue had planned to start service to Guatemala City in 2020 but the pandemic forced the airline to delay the launch. As the country is welcoming Americans once again, the new route will launch on April 15, 2021, with once-daily service, growing JetBlue's Central American destination list that also includes Mexico and Costa Rica.
In typical JetBlue fashion for longer routes like this one, the outbound flight will depart from New York in the evening and return as an overnight flight.
Raleigh, North Carolina
Raleigh is the big winner in the expansion with six new routes to cities from coast to coast. San Francisco; Austin; Orlando, Florida; Tampa, Florida; Jacksonville, Florida; Newark; and Las Vegas will all see new non-stop flights from Raleigh.
February 11, 2021, will see the first daily flights to Newark, Austin, Jacksonville, and Orlando while March 4, 2021, will see the first to Las Vegas and San Francisco.
Before the pandemic, JetBlue had only served Raleigh from its bases in New York, Boston, and Fort Lauderdale. The city has seen growth from Delta and American in recent years with flights as far as Seattle and Paris on Delta and Los Angeles and London on American.
JetBlue has grown in the Southeast with destinations throughout Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, and South Carolina but Laurence cited Raleigh as a "standout" in the region. "Raleigh performs extremely well," Laurence said.
Competitors will still abound, however, as nearly all of the routes JetBlue is launching are also operated by another airline. San Francisco is served by United, Austin by Southwest, Orlando by Delta, Allegiant, Southwest, and Spirit; Tampa by Delta and Southwest, Newark by United, Frontier, and Delta; and Las Vegas by Delta, Frontier, and Southwest.
Bogota will see new non-stop flights from New York beginning in the first quarter of 2021, though the route has no specific start date or schedule yet. JetBlue had only served Cartagena from New York while flights to Bogota were offered from Orlando and Fort Lauderdale.
The Colombian capital is currently only served by flag carrier Avianca and Delta Air Lines from New York's John F. Kennedy International and will become JetBlue's fourth South American destination from New York behind Cartagena; Guayaquil, Ecuador; and Georgetown, Guyana.
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