JetBlue Surprises in Chicago

JetBlue has been trying to fly to Chicago for a long time, but their inability to get gate space and slots at O’Hare meant they weren’t able to start flying unless they settled for another area airport (Midway, Gary). Clearly they were unwilling to do so, and they really stepped up the fight recently.

In this post, I talked about how they were given approval to start 4 daily flights out of the airport, most likely all to New York/JFK. Well, yesterday, they announced their plans and they were surprising.

In yesterday’s announcement, they said they’d start five daily flights to New York/JFK and two daily flights to Long Beach (California) on January 4. Where did these three extra slots come from? According to the Chicago Tribune (subscription required):

The additional slots were obtained under the FAA’s recent decision to allow airlines at O’Hare to “trade, swap, buy or sell” slots, according to JetBlue spokesman Bryan Baldwin. He declined to say exactly how JetBlue negotiated the additional slots or from whom it had obtained them.

Interesting, so that’s why they reduced their initial request from 8 slots to 4. They knew they could get the others on their own. They’ll start flying out of Third World Terminal 2, most likely from the old America West gate that the airline gave back after its merger with US Airways.

One other thing to note. They have an amazing $36 fare sale for the first 36 hours (you probably have half that time left), but good luck finding any seats. Spot checks show almost no availability when you’d want to go, especially on the Long Beach route which interests me the most.

Now the question is what two flights are they dropping out of Long Beach? They’re operating at maximum capacity there right now, so two flights will have to go to make room for these. I’ll do some research and see if I can find out.

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