JetBlue is making two significant changes to its inflight service process in the coming months. The carrier will switch from Coke to Pepsi for the complimentary beverages in “Core” economy class. The carrier will also transition away from the single-serving mini water bottles to a poured offering from 1.5L bottles. The changes will begin to fly in early June 2019. The news was shared via email with inflight crew today.
The move is described as bringing “our Customers exciting new product options they’ve asked for, while also fitting more offerings on to our carts, brining sustainable benefits and controlling growing costs.” Starting on 3 June 2019 JetBlue will offer:
- Diet Pepsi
- Sierra Mist
- Sierra Mist Zero Sugar
- Bubbly Lime Sparkling Water
- Canada Dry Seltzer
- Canada Dry Tonic
- Canada Dry Ginger Ale
Juices from Apple & Eve will also join the lineup. Coke Zero, Sprite Zero and Fuze Iced Tea products are being phased out and will not be replenished as stocks are depleted. Coffee and tea on board will remain Dunkin. Mr. & Mrs. T’s Bloody Mary mix will also survive the changes.
For passengers who prefer water on board the carrier will now “Pour in Core” using 1.5L bottles rather than the individual bottles that were previously passed out. This move is far more ecologically sound and will significantly reduce weight and waste. It should also help free up a bit more overhead bin space as the catering supplies can be better stocked directly on the carts. Pouring into individual cups will also likely increase spills, but it is just water. The transition from Dasani to Aquafina will take until Q1 2020, with Creekside Springs water filling the gap for some of that time.
These beverage selections are the initial pass at setting a service that will meet the needs of passengers, inflight crew and the airline’s accounting office. Expect to see some of the selections shift over time as part of promotional efforts or longer-term tweaks to the project.
Finally, thanks to the cart-based service, the carrier will also adjust the service timing on its shortest flights. The express service will now include snacks and drinks at the same time rather than two separate runs through the cabin.
Worth the risk?
Shifting the on-board beverages can be risky move in the aviation world. United Airlines faced significant passenger frustrations from its FrehBrew coffees over the years. That carrier’s plans to remove tomato juice from the cabin were similarly poorly received when announced a year ago. In both cases the carrier eventually changed its offerings.
In this case it is unlikely that JetBlue will change things beyond these plans in the short term. The company plans additional marketing efforts with PepsiCo as part of the transition. And further streamlining the cart-based service should be a welcome improvement for inflight crew. The need to return to the galley for refills was one concern expressed through that transition period.
Could the Pepsi shift spread beyond JetBlue? Coca-Cola has long dominated the inflight catering market, with the occasional deviation from some airlines. This deal gets PepsiCo products into a significant number of airports and could help the company gain the necessary experience and processes to expand. Or it could just be a one-off. But it is certainly worth keeping an eye on.