Travel writer and aviation editor Barbara S. Peterson first interviewed jetBlue founder David Neeleman in 1999 while researching an article on new airlines. Neeleman was full of great ideas and lots of promises. He had $10 million in freshly raised funds in the bank, but no airplanes, no staff and no pilots. His airline flew on paper only. Peterson revisits jetBlue in Blue Streak: Inside jetBlue, the Upstart that Rocked an Industry, which chronicles the airline from its birth as an entrepreneurial dream through the day-to-day pace of its aircraft and crew.
Neeleman, a travel and airline industry maverick, cut his teeth at Morris Air, a Utah-based airline that looked and felt like Southwest Airlines. Southwest bought Morris in 1993 and brought its leadership, including Neeleman, into the Southwest family. Neeleman lasted five months at Southwest; a tidy buyout package allowed him to plan a new kind of airline. In her CondÅ½ Nast Traveler piece, Peterson was skeptical that jetBlue could survive the next five years; she'd seen too many upstarts fail. But in 2000, a government report provided a prescient outline for the future for jetBlue. Airline in- siders expressed the belief that regional jet service would be the travel vehicle of the future, linking America's major cities to its rural towns and the heartland through a network of smaller airplanes and numerous rural airports. Long lines at airports would evaporate, prices would drop and the traveling public would be happy again. In short, the airline industry would be competitive.
JetBlue has become a model for jet-service philosophy. It provides friendly service, fair pricing, reliable flights and customer responsiveness. Its planes are known for their luxurious cabins and free DIRECTV in-flight television, leather seats and even flying Pilates cards. More importantly in the hyper-competitive airline industry, jetBlue is making money. Blue Streak is an engaging peek into the open cockpits of the airline industry, its foibles and pitfalls, written by someone who knows the industry, yet still loves to fly. This book is the chronicle of one little airline that could. Sharon Secor writes from Minneapolis, Minnesota.