In July 2016, jetBlue announced commercial flights from the United States to Cuba will commence in late August.[64][65] On August 31, 2016, JetBlue Flight 387 from Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport to Abel Santamaría Airport, in Santa Clara, became the first scheduled commercial flight between the United States and Cuba in 55 years.[66] Only charter flights were allowed under previous rules, which required that passengers had to arrive more than 4 hours before the scheduled departure and often endure long lines for documentation checks, late flight arrivals, and pay high baggage fees.[67]
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On March 19, 2008, jetBlue added Orlando, Florida as a gateway focus city to international destinations in the Caribbean, Mexico, and South America. New international routes from Orlando International Airport include Cancún, Mexico, Bridgetown, Barbados, Bogotá, Colombia, Nassau, Bahamas, San José, Costa Rica, and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. In conjunction with the addition of new routes the airline will continue significant expansion of operations at Orlando International Airport including a planned 292-room lodge that will house trainees attending the existing "JetBlue University" training facility (opened in 2015).[33]
As jetBlue gained market share, they found a unique positioning where they competed with other low-cost carriers (e.g. Southwest, and Frontier), as well as major carriers (e.g. American, United, and Delta). Amenities such as their live in-flight television, free and unlimited snack offerings, comfortable legroom, and unique promotions fostered an image of impeccable customer service that rivaled the major airlines, while competitive low fares made them a threat to low-cost no-frills carriers as well.[94]
For many years, analysts had predicted that jetBlue's growth rate would become unsustainable. Despite this, the airline continued to add planes and routes to the fleet at a brisk pace. In addition in 2006, the IAM (International Association of Machinists) attempted to unionize JetBlue's "ramp service workers", in a move that was described by JetBlue's COO Dave Barger as "pretty hypocritical", as the IAM opposed jetBlue's creation when it was founded as New Air in 1998. The union organizing petition was dismissed by the National Mediation Board because fewer than 35 percent of eligible employees supported an election.[citation needed]
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