Jetblue is offering packages of 10 flights from Long Beach for $999. But is it a deal? It depends.

Jetblue JetBlue Airways is once again offering slightly discounted fares to Long Beach Airport travelers who purchase in bulk through its Gopack program.

For about $1,000 plus $69 in taxes, you’ll be buying 10 separate segments for a handful of Long Beach routes. You can buy until March 31 and you’ll have to use your segments by June 17, though the program is blacked out between April 11, 2014 and April 28, 2014. These are the routes for which the vouchers are valid:

Long Beach, CA (LGB) to/from San Francisco, CA (SFO)
Long Beach, CA (LGB) to/from Oakland, CA (OAK)
Long Beach, CA (LGB) to/from Sacramento, CA (SMF)

This is not really a deal for leisure travelers. If you’re buying in advance, you can find a ticket from Long Beach to San Francisco for $69 each way. But these segments are much more flexible than Jetblue’s typical business-traveler oriented tickets. You’re able book at the last minute or change your flight up to 90 minutes before departure with only a $75 fee. The last minute flights purchased by business passengers are generally a lot pricier than $100 each way.

There’s also a six segment package for $700 plus $39 in taxes. And Jetblue is doing similar promotions with East Coast flights from New York and Boston. See them all here. 

What do you think? Is the Long Beach promotion a good deal for your needs?

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Should Jetblue start overselling flights? And other airline news of the past week.

Jetblue doesn't oversell its flights, generally. But should it?  (Thomas R. Cordova/Staff Photographer)

Jetblue doesn’t oversell its flights, generally. But should it? Bloomberg Businessweek asked in an article.  (Thomas R. Cordova/Staff Photographer)

Here are some of the stories I’ve enjoyed in the past week.

Jetblue boasts that it rarely oversells flights. This sounds good, but it means the airline probably flies a bunch of segments with empty seats — since not every passenger shows up for each flight. This Bloomberg BusinessWeek story — “JetBlue Never Bumps Passengers. Maybe It Should” — asks whether Jetblue should change policy to chase more revenue and fill more seats.

Locally, Burbank Bob Hope Airport reported that it handled about 3.88 million passengers in 2013, down about 5 percent from the previous year, according to the Burbank Leader. As we’ve noted many times here, it is not a good time to be a midsize airport. For now, airlines prefer big-city hubs, like LAX.

The New York Times says that on-time data is flawed because the on-time ratings of major airlines do not include flights operated by their commuter partners. Thus an airline like United might report decent on-time numbers for January, even though its United Express partners — who are technically independent airlines — fair far worse.

Virgin Atlantic will cease flying from London to Australia through Hong Kong on May 5, according to Business Traveller magazine. The route used an Airbus A340-600 airplane with four engines — a plane that is notoriously inefficient compared to more modern twin-engine jetliners.

Korean Air is making Houston its 11th U.S. gateway, Today in the Sky reported this week. The service starts in May. Korean will use a Boeing 777-200.

And finally, want to learn more about me, Brian Sumers, your blogger? I answered some questions recently on my travel habits for JohnnyJet,  the indefatigable travel blogger. You can find the Q&A here. 

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US Airways and American Airlines will give up 2 gates at LAX after merger

American and US Airways reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice.

American and US Airways reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice.

We learned Tuesday that US Airways and American Airlines have settled their antitrust lawsuit with the U.S. Department of Justice and several state attorneys general.

The deal, as expected, requires the combined carrier to divest itself of assets in some major business markets — mostly New York and Washington, but also other places, like Chicago, Boston and Los Angeles. Many experts believe American and US Airways did pretty well in the deal, and I agree. The new American should be at least as strong as competitors Delta and United. The biggest divestiture comes in the form of slots — or takeoff and landing rights — with the new airline losing 34 slots at New York La Guardia and 104 at Washington Reagan.

My job is to focus on West Coast aviation. So let’s take a look at the nuts and bolts of what the DOJ Settlement means for LAX.

Continue reading

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Frontier Airlines: Is there room for a third ultra low cost airline?

Frontier Airlines belivves there's space for a third ultra low cost carrer in the United States. Do you agree?

Frontier Airlines believes there’s space for a third ultra low cost carrier in the United States. Do you agree?

I linked to it earlier today, but I think it’s worth taking another look at Brett Snyder’s interview with Daniel Shurz, Senior Vice President – Commercial for Frontier Airlines.

In one of the most interesting parts, Schurz says the U.S. market needs more ultra-low cost carriers, like Allegiant and Spirit. He says the airlines we now view as low cost — Southwest and Jetblue among them — are not really LCCs in the European model.

Into and out of the UK on intra-Europe flying, ULCCs account for over 50% of capacity. In all of Europe, it’s just over a third. Spirit and Allegiant represent slightly below 3% of US capacity. Even if you include Frontier, we want to get to the ULCC point, it’s still under 4.5% of the capacity. I think that leaves a significant opportunity for ULCCs in the US market, and I think it leaves an opportunity for differentiated strategies across the ULCCs.

Frontier has been making a play not only in its long-time home of Denver, but also in smaller airports in the Northeast, such as Trenton, N.J. Shurz tells Snyder that the region is ripe for an ultra low cost carrier.

And the world has changed. I think you’ve done work, Brett, to show how much domestic fares have risen notably on one airline, but also generally. And that’s what’s creating opportunity for ULCCs in the country. It’s that fare umbrella. The northeast never had low fares to the same extent since Southwest was never that big in the Northeast. And their failure to succeed in Philadelphia has led to fares rising. One of the things about Wilmington is that even though Baltimore fares are lower than in general in the northeast, they’re significantly higher than they were 5 to 10 years ago.

I’m not sure whether Frontier will be successful as the third ultra low cost carrier in the United States. But I do think the market needs more low-fare airlines to undercut carriers like United, American, Delta and even Jetblue and Southwest. It’ll be interesting to see what happens.

Do you think Frontier can make it? The airline likely will be sold in the next few days to Indigo Partners, a Phoenix investment firm. 

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Delta and Jetblue plan to move fast to allow iPhones, Kindles and other devices at all altitudes

JetBlue Airways and Delta Air Lines are wasting no time ensuring that passengers will soon be able to use their electronic devices in all stages of flight.

JetBlue could be first, with an airline spokeswoman telling me it could be as quickly as this afternoon. “JetBlue will allow the use of PEDs as quickly as we receive approval from the FAA,” spokeswoman Sharon Jones said.

Delta, too, is moving quickly, though it may not be ready until Friday. Here’s what Delta officials have to say:

 Delta Air Lines is ready to allow its customers to be the first to use their portable electronic devices below 10,000 feet as early as Nov. 1, 2013 pending Federal Aviation Administration approval. All Delta aircraft have completed carrier-defined PED tolerance testing to ensure the safe operation of passenger portable electronic devices during all phases of flight and Delta’s plan has been submitted to the FAA for approval.

As I reported earlier this morning, the Federal Aviation Administration will allow airlines to set their own rules regarding whether passengers can use iPads, iPhones, Kindles and other similar devices during the entire flight, including takeoff and landing. The airlines will have to prove to the FAA that that the devices will not conflict with flight operations.(Currently, devices must be shut off at altitudes lower than 10,000 feet.)

Even under the new system, customers will not be able to make calls or use their phones to transmit data on any airline. So “airplane mode” will still be useful.

Like a lot of customers, I’m impressed that JetBlue and Delta are moving so fast on this. But I imagine that all airlines will move relatively quickly. There’s no reason for them to be at a competitive disadvantage.

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