Yes, Breeze Airways flies under the low cost carrier concept. But executives hope the airline will be seen more as a “Nice Low Cost Carrier, a niche of its own where we really focus on treating guests the right way.” Among other things, that drives the company’s cabin configuration and on-board amenities. Delivering a “Nice” passenger experience is critical, but controlling costs also plays a massive role in those decisions.
When the carrier launched operations in May 2021, it did so with a fleet of used E-Jets. It snagged the planes on relatively low cost leases as COVID-19 saw airlines shrink operations. Getting them into service was more critical than a retrofit to the company’s planned standards. But in the intervening months the company managed to complete a retrofit program addressing seating, in-flight entertainment (IFE), and on-board ancillary sales.
Flying with Breeze today delivers notable differences on board compared to the company’s inaugural operations. And that’s a very, very good thing.
PaxEx.Aero flew on the Islip to Charleston and Charleston to West Palm Beach inaugural flights as a guest of Breeze Airways. All opinions are our own.
Streaming IFE: A cheap and easy win
Take, for example, the decision to install the Anuvu Airconnect Go streaming entertainment platform on the company’s Embraer E190/195 fleet. The system offers episodes from a few dozen TV series as well as a handful of games for passengers. That’s a step above Frontier or Allegiant‘s on-board options, though arguably trails Spirit Airlines‘ in-flight connectivity solution.
Company CFO Trent Porter described the IFE gear as a differentiator, part of Breeze‘s push to be that Nice LCC. CEO and Founder David Neeleman was even more blunt about the reasoning behind including it on board. “It is cheap,” he explained.
That low barrier to entry is important. So are relatively low content licensing costs by choosing only TV shows and excluding movies. Given the high share of the carrier’s E-Jet operations shorter than 2 hours, there wouldn’t be enough time to watch a full movie anyways.
Read More: Breeze bets big on premium with new A220s
The Breeze implementation of Airconnect Go does require a minor alteration to the aircraft for fitting power; it is not a truly portable appliance in an overhead bin. That comes with costs. But Breeze managed to complete that work with minimal impact to operations and, again, minimal expense.
The airline did not, however, install USB power as was previously tipped.
Still no connectivity
While the A220 will eventually offer in-flight wifi via a satellite-based service, the E190s fly offline and Breeze expects them to stay that way. The short flight duration is, for Neeleman, sufficient to dissuade investing in the satellite connection option on those older planes.
But connectivity on the legacy fleet is not completely out of the question.
Read More: Breeze adds Hartford base, with A220 focus
Neeleman concedes that the company’s charter business with the E-Jet fleet might ultimately force it to reconsider the offline nature of the planes. “If the sports teams or whatnot demand it” Breeze might consider a solution. And knowing that these planes only fly domestic routes, the option to choose a lighter, less expensive terrestrial option remains viable.
A seat refresh
Since the carrier launched operations in May 2021 it also completed a refresh of the cabin interiors, with refreshed seats on board. The Safran Z110i seat will also fly on the company’s A220 fleet, providing efficiencies of a common product. It also delivers a more comfortable option on board compared to the older seats the planes initially operated with.
The seat covers no longer sag and they do not (yet) show the marks of abuse that come with years of flying. Breeze also chose to retain the relatively comfortable layout on board, as well as seats that recline. Both offer “nice” differentiation relative to other players in the US U/LCC market.
On-board sales takes off
Selling snacks on board was always part of the Breeze playbook. Like the new seats and the streaming IFE kit, however, it was not ready on day one of operations. It is today, however. And while the selection is somewhat limited, the snack service is can now deliver the desired revenue.
Breeze offers four snacks on board: Chex Mix, Pringles, Peanut M&Ms, and a Protein Trail Mix each price at $4.50. Soft drinks, juice, and water are also for sale, priced at $3.50 each. A more robust snack box comes in at $8.50.
Bundles are available, and “Nicer” fares include a snack (but not the box) and drink.
The snack prices are on par with other airlines, though that’s not necessarily good news for travelers, Still, it is nice to have the option on board. And the Chex Mix is at least close to airport pricing for a quality flavor and salt hit.
n.b. – An earlier version of this story included an version of the menu with incorrect pricing. That version was never on planes; this version is now the current one, though it is expected to change in the weeks ahead with the addition of alcohol to the in-flight service.
More Breeze news:
- Breeze grows into Long Island, Palm Beach
- Taking off: The Breeze Airways era begins
- Breeze hints at early western routes
- Breeze boosts backlog, adds 20 more A220s
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Jeffrey S says
2 beverages and 2 snacks (bundle 2) is more than twice as much as 1 of each ($14.50 vs. $7)?
Seth Miller says
Nice catch. I wrote it up originally referring to the prior bundles menu (which was still on one of the planes) and it was $10.50 for 2 drinks and a snack or $14.50 for 2 drinks and 2 snacks. That made a lot more sense. But they gave me the “corrected” menu and I missed that shift. The old bundle 3 was 2 drinks and a snack box for $14 or 2+2 for $22. Again, the new version is less good. Oopsie.
It appears the price per drink/snack pair increases by $.25/pair when buying 2 at a time vs 1 (bundles 1 and 2). I wonder if that was supposed to be $13.50 for 2 pairs?
Am I missing something, or are you better off getting 2 x #1’s instead of 1 x #2?
Seth Miller says
Yeah, someone messed that up. The original packages were a different set of snacks where the 1->2 shift actually worked. Oopsie.