I was reading an article today about the new $875 million terminal that JetBlue is building at JFK and a few things stood out for me that only reinforced my views about the company and its common sense way of doing business. Instead of talking about how the terminal will look, company officials talked instead about how it would function. The designer was quoted as saying that the terminal would “set a new paradigm of efficiency” and that JetBlue is designing the terminal on the premise that “the future of airport design is about what happens on the other side of security, particularly as increasing numbers of passengers now do their ticketing from home.” The author contrasts this approach to rival American Airlines who is building their own JFK terminal with a “towering, 65-foot roofline” whereas JetBlue’s own design for the ticketing hall is conversely low-ceilinged which reduces both operating and construction costs. Another major focus for JetBlue is the development of one of the largest single configuration metal-detector setups in the country which will be able to handle up to 10 million annual passengers. So while American is busy making a splashy first impression, JetBlue is spending their money getting customers through the airport and to their flight as quickly as possible, providing a suite of amenities for passengers as they wait to board their planes. Not only is it good service, it’s good business. Much like Disney learned from it’s own queuing system, customers in line can’t generate incremental revenue.
As someone who has been frustrated by the big carriers and their tactics for years, it’s refreshing to see someone doing it right. On a related note, a friend was telling me last night that they are trying to fly from Boston to Dayton, Ohio on Delta and found that it was actually less expensive to connect though Cincinnati and go to Dayton than it was to simply get off in Cincinnati. I’d love for someone to explain to me how this makes any sense as they are paying less to take up four extra seats on another flight.