JetBlue is replacing the trays that flight attendants currently use to serve drinks and snacks with carts. But why? It depends upon whom you ask.
JetBlue claims the reason for the change is to provide faster service to economy class passengers. By mixing up drinks on a cart instead of going back and forth, passengers will be served more quickly. These will not be the full-sized carts you see on many airlines, but “half carts” that JetBlue employees helped to design. The carts will have iPads built-in, allowing for easy payment processing of JetBlue’s buy-on-board snacks and alcohols (most snacks and non-alcoholic beverages are still free).
Makes sense, no? But what if the true reason for the change is something else?
Boomberg reports that JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes told employees that this change would “mitigate some of the pain points with the Flex.”
What is Flex?
JetBlue has reconfigured some of the galleys and lavatories on its A320 aircraft in order to squeeze in two more rows of seats. The new “Space Flex” galleys by Zodiac Aerospace are much smaller, as are the new lavatories onboard. This made it far more difficult and time-consuming for FAs to prepare drinks in the galley.
Do I love the fact that we had to go to Space Flex? No, I’ll be honest — of course not. It creates a much bigger challenge for our crew members to provide that service.
And yet JetBlue could not turn down the prospect of squeezing 12 more seats aboard its A320s.
Good News: Full Beverage and Snack Service on 95% of Flights
JetBlue currently offers a more limited snack and beverage service on its shorter flights. With service shifting to cart, JetBlue predicts that 95% of flights will now offer all snacks and drinks, not just a limited assortment.
I actually like the Southwest/JetBlue style of taking drink orders than serving them on trays. It’s more personalized. It also means that passengers are not blocked in the aisle if they need to stretch or use the lavatory. But it’s also inefficient. Service via cart may be a necessary response to the new compact galleys and lavatories, but it makes sense even on aircraft that have not been retrofitted. JetBlue predicts its new cart service will reduce service time by 50%.