Since its launch in 2016 JetBlue‘s “Shuttle” flights between Boston and New York’s LaGuardia Airport came up short against the competition. The carrier hopes to seize more of that high value, business travel market by increasing service to 10x daily flights in Spring 2020. Flights will continue to operate from the Marine Air Terminal at LaGuardia, allowing passengers to avoid most of the current construction traffic mess.
JetBlue continues to grow as we attract more and more customers on the important route between Boston and New York with our low fares and award-winning service. This momentum continues throughout our Boston network as we add more flights on a variety of routes to meet the needs of travelers looking for the best in comfort and customer service.– Scott Laurence, head of revenue and planning, JetBlue
A bumpy Shuttle history for JetBlue
The initial BOS-LGA launch brought 6x daily flights and enhanced on-board services for JetBlue customers. The frequencies were light compared to Delta and American and the extra snacks eventually subsided. But the carrier recognized the potential for attracting more business passengers with service levels resembling hourly flights between New York and Boston. In Summer 2019 JetBlue shifted to an hourly(ish) schedule between the two cities, but it spread those flights across the NYC area, with JFK, LaGuardia and Newark sharing the load. At that time JetBlue touted its “unique service pattern designed to meet the needs of travelers flying between Boston and anywhere across the New York metro area, whether it be Manhattan, the outer boroughs, Long Island or northern New Jersey.” The improved snacks came back, too, though not free drinks like the competition offers.
But it appears JetBlue recognizes that its hourly service scattered across the region is not enough to attract the business travelers it wants. The new frequencies should better deliver on that potential. And as JetBlue presses its corporate travel share growth plans in Boston the expanded shuttle should help.
Limited LaGuardia Slots
Growing the Boston-LaGuardia route means JetBlue must cut elsewhere. The carrier controls a limited number of slots at LaGuardia and did not acquire new slots as part of this move. To achieve its Shuttle goals other cuts must be made.
JetBlue will trim some of its Florida service frequencies, shifting those slots over to the Boston service as a result. But the overall capacity to Florida will not change too much. JetBlue will shift those routes to its A321 aircraft with 200 seats on board, an increase from the A320s carrying 150-162 passengers. As a result the total capacity won’t drop too much, even as available flight times shift.
The Shuttle flights will continue to operate on the Embraer E190, featuring 100 seats, complimentary wifi and snacks and no middle seats on board.
JetBlue will also add an extra Boston-Austin frequency beginning in summer 2020, in part a response to American Airlines entering that market. That move was not planned as recently as just a couple weeks ago.