NEW YORK – JetBlue Airways Corp. (JBLU) will offer spa products on its redeye flights, hoping to fill seats in fiercely competitive transcontinental markets as high fuel prices continue to plague the airline industry.
JetBlue and Bliss have begun giving overnight passengers kits that contain eye masks, earplugs, moisturizer, lip balm and a promotional offer from the spa company. The kits are distributed only on flights between Western states and the East Coast.
The airline has also started offering a self-serve pantry filled with snacks and hot towels on the flights — part of what JetBlue is calling "Shut-Eye" service.
"We thought this would be a unique way to differentiate ourselves from our competitors," said Eric Brinker, JetBlue's director of product development and customer experience. "JetBlue is not going to be the airline to nickel and dime its customers."
JetBlue — which recently reported its first quarterly loss — didn't say how much the new services will cost. But the New York company believes selling an extra seat or two will make a difference.
"Two more seats per Shut-Eye flight for one year and we could cover the cost of our entire station rent at Long Beach airport for the year," Brinker said.
New York-based Bliss has spas in the United States, London and W Hotels. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. (HOT), which owns the W brand, bought Bliss in 2004.
Such innovations can matter greatly in terms of building, or retaining, market share. On Monday, JetBlue ranked first in a national survey of airline quality.
Aviation consultant Michael Boyd said innovations like the redeye kits have helped distinguish the New York-based airline from its competitors.
"They've always moved in a different direction," Boyd said. "That's why they've stayed alive. This is another out-of-the-box marketing play. It cost them almost nothing and it gets people to think JetBlue."