At an airline conference yesterday, JetBlue announced that it plans to expand to 5 times its current size in the next few years, while maintaining its 9 to 11 percent profit margin. They also noted that they are considering several new Caribbean destinations, and that their new Embraer 190s will allow them to fly nonstop profitably from New York to such cities as Daytona Beach and San Antonio. JetBlue currently focuses on high-frequency flights between NYC and the west coast and Florida (with a few cities in the middle, such as New Orleans and Denver sprinkled in). Having lower frequency flights using smaller aircraft is a major change for the carrier, a point that a zillion people have made before me. I once heard their CEO say that he felt in terms of the airline’s success, their “Seatback TVs were overrated and their employees were underrated.” It’s easy to stick a TV on the seat of a plane, it’s going to be difficult to hire a staff that exudes the JetBlue culture so quickly. Ask Southwest about that.
In a completely unrelated story, I was flying a week or so ago and noticed that security to pulled aside two women (a woman in her 80s and her daughter) for a more thorough check. The older woman appeared to be in the early stages of Alzheimer’s (or some level of dementia) and was clearly confused as to what was happening. Security removed her shoes asked her to stand, waved a wand over her and patted her down, much to her confusion and frustration. The insanity of airport security was never more clear to me than that moment. What a complete charade. The good news, though, is that no Alzheimer’s stricken women hijacked planes that day. Success!