Is JetBlue Planning On Opening Airport Lounges?

Is JetBlue Planning On Opening Airport Lounges?

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With JetBlue having launched transatlantic flights last year, is the airline finally planning on opening lounges? A new job posting suggests that this is at least being explored.

JetBlue hiring airport lounge analyst

JetBlue has a job posting for the role of “Senior Analyst Lounge Product & Strategy Development.” As the role is described:

The Senior Analyst will play a critical role in developing and implementing strategic GEX initiatives, focusing on those related to forthcoming Transatlantic flights, such as lounge solutions in relevant BlueCities, ground transportation partnerships, and more.

Among other things, the job description talks about defining “the product vision, strategy framework, and roadmap for the lounge experience,” and collaborating “with key business partners such as airport authority and lounge architect to identify lounge spaces and recommended build-out options.”

Now, I think it’s important to state that just because JetBlue is exploring this, doesn’t mean it’s actually going to happen. The role of senior analyst is fairly junior, so for a major airline, this isn’t a lot to spend to explore the possibility of something. So it’s far from a sure bet, and if it does happen, it’ll likely be years down the road.

I do think this is noteworthy because (as far as I know) this is the first time JetBlue has publicly acknowledged the concept of working on opening airport lounges.

Will JetBlue Mint passengers get lounge access?

Why lounges are a complicated matter for JetBlue

While I’m happy to see JetBlue considering opening lounges, personally I remain skeptical about this becoming a reality.

In many ways JetBlue revolutionized the domestic premium cabin experience in 2014, when the airline introduced Mint business class. To this day, this remains an amazing (both hard and soft) product, with attractive pricing. There was no need to open lounges for these flights, since it’s not like most airlines offered lounge access on domestic flights anyway, and JetBlue also had a compelling value proposition.

Then in 2021 we saw JetBlue start to operate transatlantic flights, initially from New York to London, but Boston to London flights will start in the coming months. The airline has 13 A321LRs and 13 A321XLRs on order, so eventually we could expect to see JetBlue operating up to 26 planes on intercontinental flights.

In general there’s the expectation for airlines to offer lounge access to long haul international business class passengers, so in a way that’s an area where JetBlue lags. However:

  • Finding available lounge space at airports can be really difficult, and I imagine there’s not much space in Boston (BOS) or New York (JFK) for JetBlue to build an impressive lounge
  • I suppose JetBlue could try to get contract lounge access at some airports (JFK T5 doesn’t have any options), though realistically I have to imagine that most Mint passengers also have a Priority Pass membership, getting them access to these kinds of lounges already
  • Operating lounges is costly, both in terms of airport rent and the operating costs, and without a network scaled big enough, I imagine the economics of JetBlue operating its own lounges would be challenging
  • This would likely add quite a bit of inconsistency to the experience, rather than just not making lounge access an expectation; I imagine JetBlue would be unlikely to be able to open lounges in Boston and New York around the same time

We’ll see how this goes. If JetBlue does open lounges for transatlantic Mint passengers, I imagine they’ll be top notch, since when JetBlue does something, it does it right (well, other than operating flights on-time). 😉 But I’m just not convinced this will come to fruition anytime in the next five years or so.

However, I do think it could happen eventually. What the airline looks like at that point (and whether Spirit Big Front Seat passengers get access) remains to be seen. 😉

JFK T5 doesn’t have much available space for lounges

Bottom line

JetBlue is hiring someone for lounge product & strategy development, as the airline is exploring creating a lounge experience for transatlantic Mint passengers. Only time will tell if this becomes a reality — finding available airport lounge space is both challenging and costly.

I’m not confident we’ll see much happen anytime soon (maybe aside from contract lounge access), though I’ll certainly be watching how this evolves.

Do you think JetBlue will open its own airport lounges?

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  1. Mitch Guest

    Jfk t5 has an air Lingus lounge

  2. Brianair Guest

    I feel like it would be unwise for JetBlue to start having their own lounges. Or buy another airline. When I come to think of it, I have a hard time understanding why they’re so successful when they’re providing a great product that often exceeds the legacy carriers while also costing less than them and they face competition on many routes. Hybrid airlines like JetBlue tend to be really tough to get right because you...

    I feel like it would be unwise for JetBlue to start having their own lounges. Or buy another airline. When I come to think of it, I have a hard time understanding why they’re so successful when they’re providing a great product that often exceeds the legacy carriers while also costing less than them and they face competition on many routes. Hybrid airlines like JetBlue tend to be really tough to get right because you can pretty easily end up being nothing to the consumer, where you fail to compete on product (including routes and frequencies) and fail to compete on price as well. That’s largely what happened to Virgin America and Oasis Hong Kong. The interesting thing is that JetBlue has many routes with competition, and I know the competition was one of the biggest reasons why VX wasn’t making money. Well, VX did in fact have their own lounge, and look where they are now. JetBlue should be careful and stick to what they currently do best.

  3. iamhere Guest

    Who cares! This article is all speculative. Anyway, the simple result is JetBlue could use their one world partners for lounge access. Besides there is a difference between flying to New York from Miami and flying across the country. If you are flying across then they should provide lounge access.

  4. Bob Guest

    It used to be that I didn't really mind that jetblue didn't have lounges because their product was so good and cheaper than the other major airlines between east/west coast. However since right before the pandemic jetblue prices have been terrible. Not just slightly higher than ua, delta or aa but significantly higher. So if they want to justify their current prices they will need to offer more and I don't mean sharing flights with spirit customers.

  5. Paul Reynolds Guest

    Aer Lingus uses the JB terminal at JFK and has a lounge, maybe they could use that.

  6. Anthony Diamond

    A few things

    1) I disagree with your comment that most airlines "don't offer lounge access on domestic flights." United, American and especially Delta promote lounge access on domestic flights widely via credit cards. Delta obviously sees widespread lounge access as a key differentiator for domestic flights. They are putting lounges in airports where they have little international connectivity.

    2) Therefore if JetBlue really wants to compete with the big 3 long term (which...

    A few things

    1) I disagree with your comment that most airlines "don't offer lounge access on domestic flights." United, American and especially Delta promote lounge access on domestic flights widely via credit cards. Delta obviously sees widespread lounge access as a key differentiator for domestic flights. They are putting lounges in airports where they have little international connectivity.

    2) Therefore if JetBlue really wants to compete with the big 3 long term (which they are trying to do by buying Spirit planes), they need to have a long term vision for widespread lounge access to compete. A big pain point of the AA/B6 Northeast Alliance is the lack of lounge access at JFK T5 when Delta and American offer lounge access at JFK (JetBlue can use AA's lounge at LGA)

    1. Eskimo Guest

      I think " lounge access on domestic flights" actually means "complimentary access from a premium cabin ticket". But also comparing premium Transcon to a typical domestic flight is also not really apples to apples.

      And let's be clear widespread lounge isn't a key differentiator for domestic flights, especially you said it yourself UA AA DL all promotes credit card access. Lounges are there as a huge profit center not a differentiator.

      DL gets overcrowded because...

      I think " lounge access on domestic flights" actually means "complimentary access from a premium cabin ticket". But also comparing premium Transcon to a typical domestic flight is also not really apples to apples.

      And let's be clear widespread lounge isn't a key differentiator for domestic flights, especially you said it yourself UA AA DL all promotes credit card access. Lounges are there as a huge profit center not a differentiator.

      DL gets overcrowded because of the so many ways one can get access.

      2) I don't think Southwest will be having lounges anytime soon and still compete with the big 3 just fine.

    2. John Doe Guest

      Southwest is not trying to sell itself as a premium alternative to the big 3

    3. Eskimo Guest

      And there is nothing premium about the legacy 3 lounges. Nor does most people in the lounge is really from the premium segment.

  7. Ollie Guest

    I think JetBlue will eventually have lounges when they open up the new T6 that will connect with T5 during the JFK makeover. Most likely JetBlue will have its own branded lounge, some other independent lounges affiliated with Priority Pass, and airline partners of JetBlue like Hawaiian. Possibly Emirates, another JetBlue partner, would move over to T6 from T4 since JetBlue will have new gates that can accommodate the A380 and open up a new...

    I think JetBlue will eventually have lounges when they open up the new T6 that will connect with T5 during the JFK makeover. Most likely JetBlue will have its own branded lounge, some other independent lounges affiliated with Priority Pass, and airline partners of JetBlue like Hawaiian. Possibly Emirates, another JetBlue partner, would move over to T6 from T4 since JetBlue will have new gates that can accommodate the A380 and open up a new lounge even if Emirates has one already at T4.

  8. Tim Dunn Diamond

    First, it was actually Virgin America that created a premium, discounted transcon product in the form of a premium recliner. The legacy/global carriers all had some form of premium product above domestic first class on some transcons but it was neither discounted or consistent. B6 took premium transcon to a higher level with Mint which remains the best discounted transcon product although the legacy/global carriers all offer fares that match Mint.
    Regarding the potential...

    First, it was actually Virgin America that created a premium, discounted transcon product in the form of a premium recliner. The legacy/global carriers all had some form of premium product above domestic first class on some transcons but it was neither discounted or consistent. B6 took premium transcon to a higher level with Mint which remains the best discounted transcon product although the legacy/global carriers all offer fares that match Mint.
    Regarding the potential lounge analyst, Southwest also had a job posting about a low level position to look at partnerships and potential codesharing so even LCCs have to look at possibilities.
    There is more than enough room in JFK T5 if B6 is willing to build something out - but building is costly.
    The real issue is that B6 has to figure up what it wants to be when it grows up - not unlike what WN went through several years ago when its employee average compensation surpassed the legacy carriers and endless leisure routes would no longer pay the bills.
    AA can give B6 access to lounges but B6 has to decide, esp. in light of their desire to acquire NK and a dual DOJ investigation into both the acquisition and the AA alliance, if AA is the right long-term solution for B6.
    The economics of narrowbody transatlantic flights will never produce margins better than a widebody - so B6 is undoubtedly thinking about a future where it will be flying widebodies to Europe and not just A321s.
    Assuming that B6 doesn't bankrupt the company pursuing and implementing the NK acquisition, the chances are fairly high that B6 will become more like a mini-global/legacy carrier, in contrast to WN that has doubled down on being a super efficient mass transportation system.

  9. Creditcrunch Diamond

    There’s a nice space available in T4 @ LHR being the SkyTeam Lounge that’s lease expired and was reported they won’t be reopening. T4 begins a phased reopening from the 14th June with Qatar the first airline to move back and others following shortly afterwards. Also the link bridge to the hotels (Hilton, Holiday Inn Express, Crowne Plaza and Premier Inn) reopens on that date too.
    https://www.heathrow.com/passenger-updates#t4

    1. Ryan Guest

      It’s not a sure bet B6 is staying at Heathrow. They still haven’t secured permanent slots so I doubt they’d build a lounge at an airport they’re probably going to vacate.

    2. Creditcrunch Diamond

      Yeap I just been reading they only have an extension until October, not an ideal way to operate a TATL route with no certainty in retaining slots.

  10. George Romey Guest

    A lot depends. The US Domestic Airline lounge concept has changed radically over the past few years. What used to be something for primarily either paid premium International flyers or FFs that traveled enough to personally justify paying for a lounge membership (or have their company pay for it) has now turned into nothing more than a marketing strategy for credit card mills that happen to fly planes. The question is will B6 lounges be...

    A lot depends. The US Domestic Airline lounge concept has changed radically over the past few years. What used to be something for primarily either paid premium International flyers or FFs that traveled enough to personally justify paying for a lounge membership (or have their company pay for it) has now turned into nothing more than a marketing strategy for credit card mills that happen to fly planes. The question is will B6 lounges be for Mint paxs only or another come on to get a co-branded cc.

  11. Syd Guest

    Is there any insight on how Jetblue's London service is performing overall? Whenever I peek at NYC-LON fares, Jetblue always seems actually more expensive, not less - at least one of the many big boys would usually offer a fare noticeably cheaper. So it sure doesn't look like they're "democratizing" the route + personally, I'd never take an A321 over a 767-777-787-A350.

    1. Darin Member

      Completely agree on pricing. While they always launch routes with lower pricing, it is rare that I find their fares beating the legacies as they settle in, usually the opposite.

      Can’t agree with you on the A321 comment. I flew them LGW-JFK and would take their hard and soft product over any of the legacy widebodies. Only the ground experience (lounges!) was lacking.

    2. Syd Guest

      Yeah, the product is better for sure, but it's a relatively short 6-7 hour flight, so personally I wouldn't say a suite makes a huge difference. Plus, I'd argue Delta's suite or even UA's Polaris (UA is usually the one offering lowest out of pocket fares) aren't far behind. Soft product - yeah, Jetblue would come out ahead, but again, it's a short flight. And overall, I just prefer a widebody over a narrow, unless the products truly stinks.

  12. Samuel Guest

    @Lucky

    Was wondering if you could investigate something for me. Had a friend who had a HORRIBLE experience with Air Canada and I suggested she file a DOT complaint. When I went to the link to file here (https://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer/file-consumer-complaint) the form seems broken.

    Has it been like this for a while? Has the link moved somewhere else? Any ideas?

    1. Klaus Guest

      @Samuel:
      Was your friend flying to/from Europe by any chance?

  13. Bogan Guest

    There is an empty lounge space in JFK T5. It is tiny former Airspace Lounge that closed in 2018. If B6 used that space, it would probably have to be strictly Mint pax only.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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Eskimo Guest

And there is nothing premium about the legacy 3 lounges. Nor does most people in the lounge is really from the premium segment.

0
Mitch Guest

Jfk t5 has an air Lingus lounge

0
Brianair Guest

I feel like it would be unwise for JetBlue to start having their own lounges. Or buy another airline. When I come to think of it, I have a hard time understanding why they’re so successful when they’re providing a great product that often exceeds the legacy carriers while also costing less than them and they face competition on many routes. Hybrid airlines like JetBlue tend to be really tough to get right because you can pretty easily end up being nothing to the consumer, where you fail to compete on product (including routes and frequencies) and fail to compete on price as well. That’s largely what happened to Virgin America and Oasis Hong Kong. The interesting thing is that JetBlue has many routes with competition, and I know the competition was one of the biggest reasons why VX wasn’t making money. Well, VX did in fact have their own lounge, and look where they are now. JetBlue should be careful and stick to what they currently do best.

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