What’s old is new again, or as JetBlue likes to put it – “What’s Old is Blue Again”. Last month, the airline debuted its 1960s-style RetroJet at its home airport in the JetBlue Terminal at JFK’s (Terminal 5) with an inaugural flight to Palms Spring, California (such a fitting destination).
While I did not fly to Palms Spring that afternoon, I did pop in for all of the fun pre-departure gate activities, including an iconic fashion show featuring Palm’s Springs designer Trina Turk.
The coolest part of it all was the fact that the airline integrated former TWA flight attendants (previously also working out of Terminal 5 at JFK) modeling a uniform they once wore in flight in the past. It was a beautiful blend of old and new, and completely relevant to aviation fun.
From I understand, the 1960s was considered the golden age of air travel. It was a time when flying was considered mod, glamorous, and exclusive. Airlines all around the world have been celebrating the classic 1960s era of aviation by unveiling their own special tribute liveries.
But… JetBlue is only 16 years old, with its first flight in 2000… so what exactly was the airline’s motivation to join in on the retro-craze?
JetBlue’s VP of marketing, Jamie Perry, shared a few words about the inspiration behind the airlines vision of how they would have looked life if they had existed over 50 years ago:.
One of the things we are aware of is the amount of nostalgia the airline industry drives and how proud and excited people get when they look back at the designs of the past. We wanted a piece of that as well. Why should we not be able to get involved with that just because we’re only 16 years old?
We spoke with our design team and set them a challenge. We said, “We are the coolest airline in the US today and we would have been the coolest airline in the 60s, so what would that have looked like? Design us a plane and a whole suite of assets that would demonstrate what a cool brand JetBlue would have been in the 60s. We’ve had a lot of fun with that.
Perhaps the best part of it all was the fact that it was more than just a painted plane. All of the small details surrounding the reveal of the RetroJet was so nicely strung together in a perfect tribute to aviation history. It reassured me that flying can still be hip and fun.
On November 19, I was invited to fly on the inaugural flight to Barbados from my home airport, Newark. I was stoked at the opportunity!
Not only do I love warm, tropical, destinations to escape the cold, the fact that JetBlue is further expanding to Newark is truly exciting (and of course, super convenient). Barbados is known for its spectacular beaches, rich history, and contemporary twist on traditional cuisine. I couldn’t wait to travel to an island I have never visited before.
Previously, only Boston and New York (both with Mint) flew to Barbados with nonstop service. JetBlue’s new nonstop seasonal roundtrip Saturday service from Newark to Barbados departs at 9:37 am from Terminal A. JetBlue Airways is presently the largest airline to the Caribbean, and flights to Barbados will be operated on a 150-seat Airbus A320.
The inaugural festivities started right at check in, and the party was lively bright and early at the gate with an appearance from Miss Universe Barbados, costumed dancers, authentic Bajan food, a beautiful cake, and a live band. JetBlue really went over the top to celebrate!
On board, the party continued the whole time. Each passenger had a commemorative tote bag waiting for them at their seat filled with sunscreen, sunglasses and a flag.
There were also several rounds of “inflight bingo” lead by Miss Universe Barbados where winners (I was not one of them) were given all kinds of neat prizes such as free flights and excursions on the island.
Once we landed, we were greeted by stilt walkers holding both the American and the Barbados flag & everyone was given yet another gift bag containing locally-made Bajan seasoning and sauces.
Overall that was definitely the most fun I’ve ever had on board a flight. JetBlue always knows how to throw a proper celebration. On a similar note though, I believe it was highly appropriate to pull back a bit on the historic JFK-Havana inaugural flight festivities to respect the Cubans during the time of mourning.
Have you had a chance to fly on an inaugural flight? If so, how was the experience?
*In full disclosure, JetBlue invited me to fly with them to Barbados. I was not compensated in any other way, and all opinions and stories are my own.