Flight test: Jet Blue
The airline offers some of America's cheapest fares, but also the most legroom in economy.
THE ROUTE New York (JFK) to Albuquerque, New Mexico.
THE PLANE Airbus A320
THE LOYALTY SCHEME TrueBlue is JetBlue's loyalty scheme. Points never expire and there are no blackout dates for reward travel. Partner airlines for earning and redeeming rewards are Emirates, Hawaiian Airlines, Aer Lingus and American Airlines.
UP THE BACK OR POINTY END? Economy seat 17F.
TIME IN THE AIR Four hours, 20 minutes.
THE SEAT STUFF With an economy (coach) seat pitch of 34 inches (86 centimetres) and width of 18 inches (45cm), JetBlue boasts the most legroom of all the United States carriers (based on the average fleet-wide seat pitch of US airlines).
BAGGAGE ALLOWANCE Economy passengers may check one bag (up to 22.73 kilograms) free. They may also bring one personal item (a handbag or laptop, for example) and one carry-on bag onboard. A fee of US$40 (NZ$47) applies to check a second bag. The "first bag free" policy is popular with travellers in the US, who are accustomed to paying for all checked bags on other domestic carriers.
COMFORT FACTOR Good. The extra legroom makes all the difference, allowing me to stretch out and work on my laptop. There are six seats per row, a one-aisle configuration of 3-3 seats.
THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT Seatback TV screens in economy show 36 channels of free entertainment from DIRECTV, including CNN, Comedy Central and ESPN. A selection of top-rated movies is available to watch on all flights over two hours for a fee of US$5.99 (NZ$7). Sirius XM Satellite Radio offers 100-plus channels of music programming. Reusable headsets are available for $2. Surprisingly, the airline doesn't produce an inflight magazine.
THE SERVICE Relaxed and unpretentious. JetBlue crew know this isn't the most glam of all airlines and they're not trying to make it such. With a reputation for fun, the crew will hand out extra free snacks to hungry passengers and joke around with each other. The navy uniforms look more comfortable than chic. JetBlue's tag line is "You Above All". Advertising banners in subway stations around New York City reiterate the airline's commitment to outstanding customer service and comfort.
FEEDING TIME Complimentary non-alcoholic drinks and snacks are offered throughout the flight. The snacks - Terra Blues potato chips, Doritos tortilla chips, Kings Fancy Nut mix and Linden's chocolate chip cookies - are popular, with many passengers taking a couple of bags. More food and alcoholic drinks are available to purchase at reasonable prices: US$5.99 (NZ$7) for a cheese and crackers box, US$6.99 (NZ$8.2) for a small bottle of chenin-chardonnay or malbec.
ONE MORE THING JetBlue offers some of the lowest fares in the continental US. I paid US$212 (NZ$248), including taxes, for the round-trip from New York to Albuquerque, New Mexico. With New York City as the airline's hub and base, that means easy connections and low fares to more than 50 US cities.
THE VERDICT JetBlue's services and amenities trump those of other US carriers charging twice the price.
Tested by Kristie Kellahan, who flew at her own expense.