JetBlue is expected to launch transatlantic flights in the coming months. The first routes are expected to fly from Boston and New York to London. We still don’t know which airport in the London area the airline will fly to, although personally I think that Gatwick will be the most likely given the slots that have been awarded so far.
JetBlue will operate transatlantic flights on brand new A321LRs that include both new Mint Suites and Mint Studios (Mint is the name of JetBlue’s business class product).
JetBlue introduced its Mint Business Class product on Transcon flights back in 2014, putting great pressure on other airlines. In this post, I wanted to speculate a little about how I think JetBlue will change premium pricing on transatlantic flights.
The current status of the transatlantic business class tariffs
Let’s take a look at the current status of transatlantic business class fares, taking the Boston to London market as an example. This is a market dominated by two transatlantic joint ventures, as American and British Airways have a joint venture and Delta and Virgin Atlantic have a joint venture (United also plans to start this route now, clearly to get revenge on JetBlue) . Before the pandemic, these airlines had more than a handful of daily flights between the two cities.
While these joint ventures are basically competing with each other, the reality is that these airlines don’t want to rock the boat too much. They want to keep the same outdated ticket rules and keep prices high. In business class, they mostly focus on products and schedules to try to undercut the other joint venture in terms of price as this is a loss-loss proposition for the airlines.
When I look at non-stop, round-trip Business Class fares between Boston and London with a seven-night minimum stay, what I see right now is:
- The lowest tariffs for most time periods appear to be ~ $ 3,800
- Shortly before departure, the lowest fares are ~ $ 6,800 USD
- There is a short time in summer when tariffs are as low as ~ $ 2,500
Transatlantic tariffs could certainly use some innovation, right?
Overall, however, fares are generally well over $ 3,000 round-trip, and closer to $ 4,000 in most cases. And that assumes you book ahead because if you don’t, you can expect to pay about twice as much.
How will JetBlue change prices for transatlantic business class?
I believe that JetBlue will take a completely different approach to transatlantic pricing than existing players. The big question is whether other airlines will keep up. This is pure speculation on my part, but let me share what I expect. I’m largely basing this on what JetBlue did in 2014 when it came from New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco with its Mint product.
One way streets for half the cost of round trips
Historically, the old transatlantic airlines did not have attractive one-way pricing at all. Often times, a one-way ticket is more expensive than a return trip. This allows airlines to better try to segment their customer base by having a minimum stay of seven days. Customers must stay over the weekend to receive the lowest rate.
Personally, I think it is likely that JetBlue will simplify transatlantic pricing and the price of tickets in one direction. In other words, a return ticket costs the same as two single journeys. This is what JetBlue has done in Transcon stores, where the old airlines didn’t set prices like that before 2014.
JetBlues new Mint Suite
A look at the current prices of the transcontinental Mint Suite from JetBlue
Current prices for JetBlue Mint are omnipresent, although I think it is worth giving an overview of JetBlue Mint prices between coasts. A few things to consider in advance:
- It is worth taking a look at business markets where JetBlue will face strong competition as this is the closest comparison to JetBlue’s transatlantic markets where the airline will face strong competition. In other words, Boston and New York after London are best compared to New York after Los Angeles and San Francisco
- In general, JetBlue’s transatlantic flights are approximately 30% further away than JetBlue’s transcontinental routes. While pricing seldom directly reflects cost, it is still important to consider when it comes to fuel consumption, aircraft utilization, crew costs, etc.
- For that purpose, let’s not even discuss airport taxes and fees, which will be significantly higher for these flights, especially for UK departures due to Air Passenger Duty (APD). Business Class passengers can expect to pay approximately $ 300 each way when departing from the UK
With that in mind, pre-pandemic JetBlue pricing in the New York to Los Angeles market generally started at around $ 650 and rose to over $ 1,500. This $ 650 price was typically available year-round, but only on select flights and at certain times. Sometimes it was available well in advance while it was available near departure.
It wasn’t all $ 650, however. Sometimes prices started at $ 550, sometimes at $ 600, and sometimes at $ 700. If you look at pricing months later, it looks like JetBlue pricing in these markets starts at $ 729.
JetBlue’s Mint prices months in advance
My best guess about JetBlue’s transatlantic mint pricing
This is pure speculation on my part, but I suspect that JetBlue’s transatlantic pricing will be somewhere along these lines:
- I think Mint flights start at ~ $ 1,000 one way, excluding taxes and fees. I assume that these tariffs will be available all year round, but only on selected frequencies, depending on demand
- When the route first goes on sale, I wouldn’t be surprised if, given the current lack of demand for transatlantic flights, I saw around $ 800 for one-way flights and just to get a little buzz
- While some tariffs can be as low as the above, most travelers pay a lot more than that; I think prices for bookings with almost full flights, peak frequencies, etc. will be around $ 2,000-2,500.
In other words, I think JetBlue’s Mint fares start at around $ 2,300 round-trip (including taxes and fees) while going up to $ 4,000-5,000 round-trip. In all cases this will significantly undercut the competition.
JetBlues new Mint Suite
What will the pricing be for Mint Studio?
JetBlue is doing something unique with its new Mint product – while the standard business class seat will be known as the Mint Suite, the first row of the aircraft will have two seats known as the Mint Studio, which will have more space, and even a buddy seat.
JetBlue’s new Mint Studio
With JetBlue’s old Mint product, a quarter of the seats had direct aisle and door access, although JetBlue did not charge them any additional costs. Rather, they were available depending on availability. This seemed backward to some as those who pre-booked the cheapest rates got the best seats.
JetBlue has stated that Mint Studio will incur additional costs. So what tariffs should we expect? Again, pure speculation on my part, but I would advise:
- Mint Studio is a pretty consistent markup from the best Mint rate currently available. In other words, the Mint Studio upgrade cost is the same whether you book a $ 999 or $ 1,999 rate instead of paying a percentage of the rate
- I’m assuming JetBlue will charge around $ 300 each way for this upgrade. I could see it was as low as $ 250 or as high as $ 400, but I can’t imagine it’s way outside of that range, especially when there aren’t any additional services for these passengers
JetBlue’s new Mint Studio
JetBlue is expected to launch transatlantic flights this year. Hopefully not only will the airline have a great in-flight product, but they will also bring some much-needed innovation to the legacy pricing policies of the old airlines in this market.
While this is just speculation on my part, I’m assuming JetBlue is evaluating tickets as one-way pricing. I also think one-way prices will start at around $ 1,000, although in many cases prices will be at least double that.
The other question is how much of a premium JetBlue is charged for the Mint Studio. This is the name of the front row seats. I expect the airline to charge an additional $ 300 one way, though I could also be completely off the mark.
What do you expect from JetBlue’s transatlantic mint pricing? Let us know what you think before tickets go on sale!