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JetBlue Testing Sale of Onboard Meals

JetBlue revealed it has been experimenting with the sale of onboard meals and, pending results of the test, could begin selling meals on long-haul flights by May. The carrier is so far pleased with the results of its test, which is being conducted on about a half dozen routes.

Apparently the trial run has been in progress since long before Southwest declared its interest in selling meals. The test began January 28 and ends March 31, and wasn’t publicly announced until the Southwest news surfaced. Incidentally, a Southwest spokesman threw some cold water on that idea, saying the sale of onboard meals is “not very high on our priority list.”

According to Bloomberg, JetBlue is selling sandwiches for about $8, a bag of beef jerky or mixed fruit and nuts for $5, and a half-pound chocolate assortment for $11. No word on whether or not JetBlue will discontinue its free snack service, but I have to imagine it would be extremely unpopular if the carrier did so. (UPDATE: I spoke with someone at JetBlue who confirmed the carrier would continue offering free snacks and beverages onboard all flights. Whew!)

With Southwest and JetBlue, we’re seeing the country’s two primary low-cost carriers explore business ideas that would seem to be well outside their traditional approach. But with JetBlue, it should be less surprising, as the airline has already been drifting toward a more a-la-carte approach. The airline already collects $7 for blankets and pillows and charges more and higher fees than Southwest (though in general, JetBlue’s fees are easier on the wallet than most airlines’).

Interestingly, though, JetBlue’s pillows and blankets plan received a positive response overall, and test passengers seem to like the idea of purchasing a meal on longer flights. This seems to suggest that JetBlue passengers, and perhaps low-cost carrier customers overall, are open to paying for upgraded amenities—so long as the airline doesn’t touch the basics (like checked bags) or replace free perks with costly ones. Leave a comment below and let me know if you agree.

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