JetBlue rolled out an updated website and also launched an iPhone app today, marking the carrier’s first foray into mobile apps and also a significant update to the online presence. The new website is much brighter (lots of orange) and the TrueBlue program gets a lot of love on the new site, showing at least three different places on the main page. I’m not a huge fan of the slide-out menus that move the rest of the page around, but there they are.
Overall the website changes appear to be mostly aesthetic, which is fine. Unfortunately, however, they managed to leave the one bit of the old site that is pretty awful on the old platform. The online check-in process is still the same flash-based mess that it has been since the Sabre migration happened. That was the one bit that really needed help and it didn’t get any. There are other bits of the site, like the airport guides, that have a rather unfinished feel to them. Hopefully those get touched up soon enough.
The mobile app, on the other hand, is a pretty solid offering overall, particularly for a v1.0 product. It offers flight booking, management, tracking and check-in functionality, all the basics that a mobile app should have to be useful. But it also has more.
The flight booking option is a slightly different interface than the other mobile apps I’ve seen, most notably in the seat selection, which comes on a scroll wheel rather than a seat map picker. I’m not sure if it is good or bad, but it is definitely different. It can also use geolocation to display default departure airports based on where you are, which is a neat feature, though not necessarily incredibly valuable.
There are some bugs in the flight booking interface still (remember, it is a v1.0 product), so scrolling down to the bottom of the page can result in seeing things like all the error messages that might be displayed if something goes wrong, but that doesn’t seem to interfere with the actual functionality so not a huge problem. I expect that those will be cleaned up soon enough.
The in-flight entertainment guide is pretty basic, but it includes a list of the DirecTV channels available and the movies showing, along with reviews. The in-flight section also has details on the food and snack options, including wine pairing suggestions such as Sauvignon Blanc with Terra Blue chips (apparently the citrus finish is great with the salty chips).
The highlight of the app, to me, is the "My trips" section. The display of upcoming trips is intuitive and offers up all the appropriate information on a single screen. The online check-in, social media share (Twitter and FaceBook) and "Pick me up" email features are also very nice. The flight review bits on the mobile app are arguably better than those on the main website.
And, there is more available via the trip interface. Tap on the city and you get access to the City Guide section of the app. In addition to airport information the City Guide includes tips on sights, dining and activities in the destination cities. Strangely, I cannot find any way to access that information other than via a scheduled trip, but it is nice to see that the company is working on making that happen. Hopefully they can add more content (it is somewhat sparse right now) and they expose it more directly in the near future. It would also be nice to see this content make it into the main website; it does not appear to be there right now.
Speaking of things that I hope to see in the future, there is a section in the flight booking portion of the site, both on the main website and the iPhone app, called "Add extras." Currently that section only says, "The flights you have selected don’t offer any upgrades," so there is nothing that can be selected but it certainly opens up a number of possibilities for things that might be coming. This is separate from the Even More Space seating option, though that might be something that is listed here. But there could be other things as well. This is definitely an interesting revelation that I’ll be keeping an eye on.
Overall the app is a much bigger leap forward than the website updates. Both are nice, but the app is very impressive, particularly in the my trips section. Hopefully the Android app which is expected soon will be similarly functional and both will continue to improve, fixing the little bugs that are showing today.
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