[philiptellis] Walking the world in search of interestingness

Thursday, August 19, 2010

JetBlue's All You Can Jet pass

About 40 hours ago JetBlue announced their All You Can Jet pass (better known to experienced jetters as #aycj). A few minutes ago they announced that the 7 day pass had sold out.

#aycjJetBlue introduced the pass last year and I jumped at the offer. I knew that I wasn't going to take time off work, but four weekends was still tempting, so I got mine as did many others. At the end of the 30 days though, a new community was built. A community that communicated over twitter using the #aycj tag as a chat room, that met at airport terminals, most notably T5 at JFK, and a bunch of strangers that identified each other by the little blue button with a twitter tag. A few of them turned into celebrities in their own right.

The hype really built up even after all passes were sold out. There was enough press and blog action that even if JetBlue didn't make a profit off of it, they definitely won many new loyal customers.

So why would an airline do this? The timing of the pass seems to answer that question. Traditionally, the period between Labour day (the first Monday in September) and Thanksgiving is when Americans fly the least. Except for really busy routes, most flights will go empty. This is a great time for airlines to throw out special offers, and it essentially turns into a pricing war between who can offer the cheapest seats.

JetBlue wins this round because they did something completely different. They didn't offer cheaper seats, they offered one very expensive seat that you can take with you for 30 days. The restrictions on booking ensure it isn't abused, and the result is fuller flights, and possibly more people paying $6 to watch movies on board.

I bought my pass this year a few minutes after I saw the first tweet about it, even before the email from JetBlue hit my inbox. Now, a little under two days later, the passes are sold out. It took a lot longer last year, and it will probably be a lot shorter next year.

Here's looking forward to another 4 weekends of travel.


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