Sour Over Failed Bid For Virgin America, JetBlue Gives Away Free Tickets

Image courtesy of Boss Meg

You’ve probably seen your fair share of those “(Airline Name) giving away (X number) free tickets if you share this post” promotions that infiltrate social media but are actually bogus. In a new twist — and a ploy to bring over loyal passengers of Virgin America after its announced a $4 billion merger with Alaska Airlines — JetBlue really is offering consumers the chance to win one of 500 free tickets from the carrier, no Facebook required. 

Just weeks after JetBlue dropped its reported bid to buy Virgin America, the carrier is looking for ways to capture some of the airline’s customers who might not be so jazzed to fly with Alaska Airlines, you know, without spending billions of dollars.

The “Calling All JetBlue Virgins” contest aims to give new passengers in New York and California the chance to win one of 500 roundtrip flights from the carrier, while also allowing the airline to increase its presence on the west coast.

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“Had we ended up with Virgin America, we would have worked very hard to retain their customers,” JetBlue Executive Vice President Marty St. George told Business Insider. “Now, we have an equally exciting opportunity to attract those same customers. We just wanted to remind them that we are here.”

The free tickets are only valid for travel between New York’s JFK airport and San Francisco, Long Beach, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas.

Analysts tell Business Insider that JetBlue might not have such a difficult time bringing over some of Virgin America’s loyal customers, as the two carrier have similar services.

“The Virgin America experience is much closer to the JetBlue experience than it is to the Alaska Airlines experience,” Harley Manning, vice president at Forrester Research, tells Business Insider. “It won’t be jarring for customers to switch from Virgin to JetBlue.”

In addition to plying would-be customers with free tickets, JetBlue also announced this week that it would expand its Mint first-class service — which includes private suites, lie-flat seats, and larger entertainment screens — to additional cross-country routes.

The new routes include service from hubs in New York, Boston, and Ft. Lauderdale to destinations such as Los Angeles, as well as San Francisco — where Virgin America is based — and Seattle, where Alaska Airlines is based.

“With Virgin America and Alaska Airlines merging, choice in the market is shrinking,” St. George tells Business Insider. “We are taking advantage of this opportunity to fill that void.”

[via Business Insider]

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