JetBlue Operates First Flight To London Heathrow… Without Passengers

JetBlue Operates First Flight To London Heathrow… Without Passengers

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This morning a JetBlue Airbus A321LR landed at London Heathrow for the first time, ahead of the airline launching regularly scheduled flights to the airport next month.

JetBlue’s London Heathrow test flights

On Monday, July 12, 2021, JetBlue operated flight 9400 from New York (JFK) to London (LHR). The flight took a total of 6hr11min, and landed at 7:35AM local time. The plane that operated this flight is a brand new Airbus A321LR with the registration code N4022J, which is the aircraft type that JetBlue will be using for its transatlantic flights.

JetBlue’s first flight from New York to London

The plane was delivered to JetBlue on April 29, 2021, when it flew from Toulouse to New York. The only other flight this aircraft has been operated was a roughly one hour test flight on June 17, both departing from and arriving at JFK.

What was the purpose of this flight? Airlines generally operate test flights when they’re starting completely new operations, as is the case here. JetBlue is launching transatlantic flights for the first time, with a new aircraft type, to a new airport.

There’s a bit of work that has to go into this before an airline can launch flights, and it’s expected that at least two more of these types of flights will be operated in the coming week, ahead of the airline formally launching flights to London next month.

JetBlue’s new Airbus A321LR economy product

Will JetBlue actually start flying to London in August?

JetBlue is scheduled to launch daily flights between New York and London as of August 12, 2021. It’s so exciting to see JetBlue expand into the transatlantic market, particularly with JetBlue’s new Mint cabin, as well as the new economy service experience.

JetBlue’s new Airbus A321LR Mint product

That being said, I remain skeptical as to whether or not the service will actually launch as scheduled, given the travel bans currently in place:

  • The United States has a travel ban in place against the United Kingdom, meaning that non-residents can’t enter the US if they’ve been in the UK in the past 14 days
  • The United Kingdom has the United States on its “amber” list, meaning a minimum of a five day quarantine is required for arriving travelers (this will soon be waived for people vaccinated in the UK, but most people vaccinated in the UK also aren’t eligible to enter the US)
  • Last we’ve heard, we shouldn’t expect these bans to be lifted this summer

When you combine those reciprocal travel restrictions, travel demand between the two countries is virtually non-existent. Personally I can’t imagine that JetBlue will launch this service while the travel bans are still in place. Unless something suddenly changes, I’d expect this new service to be pushed back into late summer or early fall.

JetBlue’s new Airbus A321LR Mint product

Bottom line

JetBlue is starting to operate some proving runs between New York and London, ahead of the airline launching service between the two cities in the coming weeks. It’s cool to see a JetBlue aircraft land in London for the first time.

I still remain skeptical as to whether or not this new service will launch in mid-August. With travel restrictions currently in place, there’s simply no demand for this type of service. Either restrictions will have to be lifted, or I imagine this service will be delayed.

Do you think JetBlue’s London service will launch as scheduled?

Conversations (12)
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  1. Peter

    It doesn’t make sense that people in the UK, Canada and the US who are vaccinated can’t legally enter each other’s countries but thousands are illegally entering the US crossing the Mexican/US border and who knows what diseases they are bringing in to the US.

  2. Shawn Afshar

    How many jetblue points would be needed for a round-trip?

  3. Carolyn Blood

    YEA, Jet Blue. I’m ready to take that 6 hr ride from New York to London (as opposed to the 10 hr option of other airlines). Jet Blue has been a great option, allowing comfortable and affordable travel from major US cities.
    Can I ride over on a ‘Test Run’. ‍♀️

  4. JBR

    The current travel ban against the UK and Europe, at least for fully vaccinated people from those countries, is silly at this point considering their vaccination rates. For those of us (American's) who continually bitch on this site about not being able to enter Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, we need to remember the silly entry restrictions we continue to have on Brits and Europeans, particularly those who are fully vaccinated. The Biden administration needs...

    The current travel ban against the UK and Europe, at least for fully vaccinated people from those countries, is silly at this point considering their vaccination rates. For those of us (American's) who continually bitch on this site about not being able to enter Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, we need to remember the silly entry restrictions we continue to have on Brits and Europeans, particularly those who are fully vaccinated. The Biden administration needs to have a reality check on this policy soon.

    1. Will in SFO

      It is worse than that. This ban applies to the 5 million or so Brits and Europeans that live and work in the US, with non-immigrant visas. Those people all pay tax to the IRS and contribute to the US economy. A number will now be fully vaccinated. And yet they can't be given the same rights of re-entry as US passport and green card holders. They are now facing another month of not being...

      It is worse than that. This ban applies to the 5 million or so Brits and Europeans that live and work in the US, with non-immigrant visas. Those people all pay tax to the IRS and contribute to the US economy. A number will now be fully vaccinated. And yet they can't be given the same rights of re-entry as US passport and green card holders. They are now facing another month of not being able to leave the US because they can't re-enter (unless they spend 2 weeks in a third country).

      It is really quite staggering especially when Americans are allowed to spend their summer in Europe this year.

  5. SKF

    As a non airline pilot, I was wondering for the first flights like these, is there a requirement for there to be an experience captain that has landed at LHR before? Or are the simulations so good that a real landing by a pilot who has never flown in to LHR, or any new, busy airport, that no practical landing experience is required?

    1. Chris

      The airline and all pilots need to have ETOPS training to fly direct over the Atlantic. My guess is this is one of the proving flights the FAA requires as I can’t tell that JetBlue has it in their operation specification or list of things they can do manual yet.

    2. Eskimo

      Yes Transatlantic flights are very confusing when they need to divert.
      It can be very confusing because
      Greenland is mostly ice.
      Iceland is mostly green.

      Columbus probably had something to do with naming things wrong but we still celebrate him anyway because he gave Europeans syphilis and (some) Americans a day off.

    3. Steve

      Many of JetBlue's pilots were previously legacy airline pilots who likely flew as 1st Officers and/or International Relief Pilots (IRO) prior to 9/11 furloughs, flew worldwide Part 121 charter airlines on larger equipment, as well as corporate pilots who flew business/corporate jets into so-called complex airports around the world. That said, LHR is not particularly complicated. No more so than LAX, ORD, or ATL, and certainly no language barrier. The biggest challenge if you want...

      Many of JetBlue's pilots were previously legacy airline pilots who likely flew as 1st Officers and/or International Relief Pilots (IRO) prior to 9/11 furloughs, flew worldwide Part 121 charter airlines on larger equipment, as well as corporate pilots who flew business/corporate jets into so-called complex airports around the world. That said, LHR is not particularly complicated. No more so than LAX, ORD, or ATL, and certainly no language barrier. The biggest challenge if you want to call it that, is the ETOPS contingency planning component.

  6. Grogg

    The LHR-JFK flight now departs LHR at 2:05 pm and arrives at JFK at 5:28 pm. The departure time from LHR was previously 6:10 pm and the arrival time at JFK was previously 9:35 pm.

Featured Comments Load all 12 comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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Will in SFO

It is worse than that. This ban applies to the 5 million or so Brits and Europeans that live and work in the US, with non-immigrant visas. Those people all pay tax to the IRS and contribute to the US economy. A number will now be fully vaccinated. And yet they can't be given the same rights of re-entry as US passport and green card holders. They are now facing another month of not being able to leave the US because they can't re-enter (unless they spend 2 weeks in a third country). It is really quite staggering especially when Americans are allowed to spend their summer in Europe this year.

JBR

The current travel ban against the UK and Europe, at least for fully vaccinated people from those countries, is silly at this point considering their vaccination rates. For those of us (American's) who continually bitch on this site about not being able to enter Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, we need to remember the silly entry restrictions we continue to have on Brits and Europeans, particularly those who are fully vaccinated. The Biden administration needs to have a reality check on this policy soon.

Peter

It doesn’t make sense that people in the UK, Canada and the US who are vaccinated can’t legally enter each other’s countries but thousands are illegally entering the US crossing the Mexican/US border and who knows what diseases they are bringing in to the US.

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