I’ll never forget convincing my parents to book JetBlue, the new airline on the block circa 98′, which promised a better flying experience, and notably for this teenager – live TV at every seat. They weren’t entirely sure the airline actually owned any planes, but I managed to convince them that anyone who could run an ad campaign that attracted so much of my attention surely had real planes.
At the time, it was revolutionary.
Some 22 years later, JetBlue lives on as a driving force in the US airline industry, with a unique and ever expanding boutique twist. But after many years where the US aviation market has pretty much remained as a status quo, with all the same airlines, a new airline is launching, from David Neeleman, the very person who originally brought JetBlue.
Enter: Breeze Airways
If only flying was a “breeze” these days. Perhaps, that’s the origin of the name.
Breeze Airways is scheduled to launch in March 2021, the latest venture from multi airline veteran David Neeleman, after covid-19 related delays pushed back a 2020 launch table.
The airline appears to be picking up not too far from where JetBlue left off, by bringing low prices and a more competitive on board flying experience to regional cities which don’t currently enjoy one. Basically, Breeze will be setting up its first two flying bases in under appreciated markets, where prices are high and flights are slim.
It’s long baffled customers why it costs more to fly from one regional city to another regional hub than it may to fly to Paris and back. The short and frustrating answer is “because they can”, typically due to a lack of competition applying any pressure on price.
Breeze is said to begin initial flying from an airport in the Southeast, with service to 4 cities in the Northeast, and will open similar opportunities in at least one other base. OMAAT notes plans to include a secnond base further South, flying within the South, and also to the Northeast and Southern Plains.
Breeze Passenger Experience
So what’s Breeze going to bring to the table, as it picks up operations? Namely, newer, customer favorite aircraft. Breeze bought in big with the Airbus A220, a plane initially conceived by Bombardier before a series of dramatic turns.
Orders for the A220 will take considerable time to fill, and the airline will fly Embraer E190’s, which Neeleman has used to great success with another venture ‘Azul’ in recent years, before A220’s arrive in August 2021.
The A220 interior is a big step up for most US air passengers, with high ceilings and cabin features which look more like a larger wide body aircraft used on international flights, despite the relatively small size of the actual plane. It’s a next generation plane which somewhat revolutionizes the feeling of space on short haul flights.
But as titles would suggest, Neeleman’s most interesting statement to date involves the notion of being the world’s “nicest airline”. The full details of what customers will experience have yet to be announced, but already talk of sophisticated technology, and of course, speedy and perhaps “free” wifi are at the center of the conversation.
New technologies such as mobile boarding passes and automated bag drop have revolutionized the airline industry in recent years, cutting costs and allowing most passengers to bypass frustrating touch points. As a technologist, there’s little doubt Neeleman isn’t working on the newest solutions to take these concepts further.
Passengers like to “breeze” through the airport, and fewer touch points means the airline is able to save money on many typically expensive parts of an operation. Breeze is already nearing completion with FAA certification, and pilots are in training ahead of the planned launch. For travelers in quite a few US states, this may be huge news.