JetBlue takes an atypical look at Long Beach

JetBlue’s hub in Long Beach, California has long been a challenging operation. With limited slots come limited destinations and frequencies, hampering the ability to offer great service for business travelers. The carrier pushed for construction of Customs & Immigration facilities last year but that was voted down by the city council, mostly based on the irrational fear of larger and louder planes suddenly showing up; NIMBYism at its finest. So what’s an airline to do?

It seems JetBlue is looking to get creative with its slot portfolio (the carrier holds rights to a supermajority of the ~75 daily flights at the airport). In a recent internal company newsletter the carrier indicated that some atypical routes may be on the horizon.

We will probably see some frequency changes in our short haul flying to accommodate new, “unusual” markets that aren’t typical to our business plan (e.g., Santa Rosa, Calif., Steamboat, CO, Montana, etc.).

Those are most definitely not business travel destinations, but that decision seems pretty much set at this point. After all, the business routes aren’t working that great either. And choosing the leisure routes that are higher yielding just might be what it takes to realize the long term goal of “sustainable and profitable” operations for the airport.

Potential new routes for JetBlue from its Long Beach Focus City (blue are mentioned in the company memo (“Montana” is; I’m guessing Bozeman), red I’m guessing at)
Map generated by the Great Circle Mapper - copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

With Mexico off the table due to no FIS facility there were some rumblings around Canadian service being added, taking advantage of pre-clearance facilities north of the border. Those are not specifically mentioned in the memo but Vancouver and Calgary have been hinted at in the past. They are longer flights and face greater competition from Air Canada and WestJet (assuming LAX is included in the market) but seasonal service to take advantage of leisure demand could work.

The company also indicated that adding a daytime transcon service from Burbank is “high on the list” of desired routes, taking advantage of the carrier’s strength in the transcon market.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. Would love to see them put an A321 Mint plane from BUR to JFK. Would be the only carrier to have an actual premium product cross country from Burbank and wouldn’t have to deal with LAX on one end.

    1. One of my life’s desires is to scratch LAX from my list of destinations or transits.
      Nowadays I find myself transiting United via LAX from SFO to Melbourne.
      It’s rarely a pleasure.

      1. Well, soon you’ll be able to transit to China at ONT. But don’t expect any real growth at LGB any time soon. The locals have no desire for such and are well funded in opposing those efforts.

    2. I wonder if there are issues with the runway length and the A321s at BUR. I agree that otherwise it would be a natural fit for Mint.

  2. I remember when Jet Blue had at least three flights to NY from Burbank. Why did they get rid of them?

  3. For the record one cannot operate a precleared Canada flight to the US unless the receiving airport has CBP approval and established contingency plan to reprocess the passengers if required by segregating them and being able to hold them in sterile area if needed.
    SNA John Wayne Airport and Alaska Airlines found this out the hard way when AS decided to operate YVR-SNA and CBP forced inaugural flight to divert enroute when it was determined SNA was not an approved arrival point in the US for precleared arrivals.
    I seriously doubt CBP or LGB will spend money to develop such plans and designate facilities at the airport for such potential outcome.

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