Thanks to JetBlue’s new service, six airlines again fly nonstop between Boston and London. Its 1x daily flight took off from Boston to London Gatwick on August 4th, a bit later than initially anticipated due to a delay in receiving more A321LRs. time the airport pair has been served since Norwegian ceased it, and all other long-haul routes, at the start of the pandemic.
I was delighted to be aboard JetBlue’s first Gatwick to Boston service on the 5th to join in the celebration and to try out its product. The flight: B61926. The cabin: Mint. The seat: 3A.
Boston-bound: August 5th
I knew the day would be good when it took just 120 seconds to get through security due to JetBlue’s Even More Speed fast-track product. And so it proved. While Mint passengers don’t get lounge access at Gatwick, the airport wasn’t enormously busy, and it was easy to get a chair, although accessing a plug wasn’t so straightforward.
The aircraft operating JetBlue’s first flight was N4022J, the first A321LR delivered to the carrier. Like the others, it has just 138 seats: two Mint Studios (room for two people), 22 Mint suites (private suites with a door), 24 Even More Space seats, and just 90 in Core (economy).
It’s a high-premium, heavily segmented, and low-capacity configuration. While the crew said Core was full, Mint wasn’t, and neither of the Studios was occupied.
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Take off at 12:52
The gate at Gatwick had many cupcakes and balloons, and passengers excitedly participated. There was a real celebratory atmosphere, with brief presentations by Maja Gedosev, JetBlue’s GM of Europe, Dave Clark, JetBlue’s Head of Revenue and Planning, and Jonathan Pollard, London Gatwick Airport’s Chief Commercial Officer. Clark said that:
I’m thrilled to be back at Gatwick less than a year after JFK began. We are reconnecting Boston to Gatwick. Passengers can connect to many places over Boston, including places they can’t reach over JFK.
N4022J arrived from JFK at 08:01. With over four hours on the ground, it’s not surprising that boarding for the 12:25 departure to Massachusetts started promptly. Doors shut at 12:20, we pushed back at 12:27, and taxiied at 12:35. Despite being parked far away from the active runway and much outbound and inbound traffic, we rolled at 12:52, taking off behind British Airways to Orlando.
I’m typing this at 33,000 en route to the US nearly two hours after take-off. I’ll provide a full Mint review next week.
Gatwick-Boston: a summary
Gatwick-Boston has had much airline service. Since 1990, it has seen Northwest, Virgin, American, and Delta. Between March 2016 and March 2020, it was served by Norwegian, with up to a 1x daily B787-9 operation. it has been unserved.
According to the Department of Transportation, Norwegian passengers carried 219,404 point-to-point passengers in 2019, or 300 daily each way. No wonder JetBlue was interested, with its different, unfussy, and clean product. Assuming a 90% year-round seat load factor, JetBlue will only need 90,666 passengers, including 16,000 in Mint, in the next 12 months.
Have you flown JetBlue long-haul? If so, share your experience in the comments.