JetBlue lovers rejoice! In addition to their existing service, you can now fly JetBlue to hundreds of new destinations all across the US. When you get to the airport, it may look like you’re flying Continental on the outside, but it’ll be all JetBlue on the inside. Um, ok not really. What the heck am I talking about?
Continental announced yesterday that they’d begin equipping their domestic fleet with the same live television that JetBlue has. In addition, they’re going to roll out the somewhat-lame-but-still-useful-for-somebody Yahoo/Blackberry Email/IM service that JetBlue is testing on one aircraft right now. Ok, maybe this isn’t JetBlue, but it’s pretty close, and in some ways even better, as you can see below.
You won’t have JetBlue legroom, and you will have to pay $6 to watch TV (free in First Class), but you will get the best onboard product of any network carrier in the US. And yes, Continental will still serve you a meal on the long hauls. Take that, JetBlue.
Of course, this move isn’t squarely aimed at JetBlue, even though they do have a great deal of overlap in the New York area. At least, JetBlue must not think this is a direct shot at them, because they own the company that’s selling the technology to Continental. They must think that Continental is more focused on continuing in their role as the undisputed leader among network carriers in terms of overall experience. Continental usually wins awards for being the best (though we know how much I hate vague awards like that), and this should only help cement their standing.
The details of this are pretty simple. Unlike Delta, which is only outfitting some of each aircraft type with their live television system, Continental will put it on all next generation 737s (-700, -800, -900) and on the 757-300s. Since the 757-200s are now part of the international fleet, they will not have this product and neither will the 777 and 767 aircraft. That’s good, because this only works over land, so it would be a useless box over water. I believe the overwater fleet is getting audio/video on demand at some point.
Besides the Express fleet, the only ones left out are the 737-300s and -500s. To be fair, that’s a pretty big chunk of the fleet. Airfleets.net says that they have 108 that won’t be outfitted with the new system and 170 that will. Of course, the old generation 737s are used primarily on shorter routes while the next generation ones go on the longer runs, so that makes sense. The good news is that you will be able to look at your aircraft type when you book, and barring a substitution, you’ll know if you get it or not.
At least, that’ll be the case by next January. Until then, it’ll be luck of the draw as they work to outfit the entire fleet.Actually, you won’t have to worry about it until a year from now when they start installation.
I assume that the email/IM capabilities will be installed at the same time. It’s unfortunate that they haven’t decided to go with a full internet solution, but that’s what happens when you go with LiveTV. At least it’ll be free.
Really, the worst part of this whole announcement is that Continental doesn’t fly to very many places from LA, so we don’t get much of a chance to try them often. This definitely widens Continental’s lead at the top of the standings from a customer point of view. Nice work.