Last week, JetBlue lost the bidding war for Virgin America to Alaska Airlines.
This week, it’s going after Virgin America’s customers with a charm offensive.
“Had we ended up with Virgin America, we would have worked very hard to retain their customers,” JetBlue Executive Vice President Marty St. George told Business Insider.
“Now, we have an equally exciting opportunity to attract those same customers.”
According to Forrester Research Vice President Harley Manning, “That should be a pretty easy sell for JetBlue.”
“The Virgin America experience is much closer to the JetBlue experience than it is to the Alaska Airlines experience,” Manning told Business Insider. “It won’t be jarring for customers to switch from Virgin to JetBlue.”
New York-based JetBlue has firmly established itself as a major player on the East Coast, but it’s still growing its presence out west.
“People on the East Coast understand what we are all about,” St. George said. “But the West Coast is still figuring us out.”
Part of the airlines’ plan to ingratiate itself with Virgin’s customers includes a sweepstakes dubbed “Calling all JetBlue Virgins” where they will give away 500 tickets to flyers who have never travelled with the airline.
“We just wanted to remind them that we are here,” St. George added.
Alaska’s $2.6 billion acquisition of Virgin America certainly has its merits. However, analysts believe the contrasting manners with which the two airlines present their respective products will make it difficult for the two brands integrate in a way that would satiate both customers bases.
Manning and Airways News senior business analyst Vinay Bhaskara both believe the Virgin America brand will be around for no more one or two years.
That’s where JetBlue is steps in.
The JetBlue announced on Tuesday a significant expansion of its award-winning Mint first class service from its hubs in New York, Boston, and Ft. Lauderdale to major West Coast destinations such as Los Angeles as well as Virgin America’s home base in San Francisco and Alaska’s home hub in Seattle.
Mint first class expansion include routes between:
- Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood and Los Angeles (LAX)
- Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood and San Francisco
- New York (JFK) and Las Vegas
- New York (JFK) and San Diego
- Boston and San Diego
- New York (JFK) and Seattle
- Boston and Seattle
“With Virgin America and Alaska Airlines merging, choice in the market is shrinking,” St. George said. “We are taking advantage of this opportunity to fill that void.”
JetBlue’s Mint first class features private suites with lie-flat seats, a 15-inch entertainment screen, along with a full menu and signature cocktails.
The latest expansion of Mint service will begin in the first quarter of 2017 and will continue into 2018. Mint service is available exclusively on board JetBlue’s new Airbus A321 fleet.