PALM SPRINGS, CA — ‘What if?’ is not a phrase used commonly heard in the airline industry. As carriers constantly look forward improving and reinventing their product, the quest to seek a competitive advantage in the increasingly dynamic airline industry simply leaves no time to look back.
The ever-innovative JetBlue (B6/JBU), however, has embraced ‘What if?’ to its fullest extent with its latest marketing initiative, taking it to a team of design professionals to envision what the awarded New York-based carrier would have looked like five decades ago during the early jet age.
“JetBlue is the coolest airline in the United States today, and it would have been the coolest U.S. airline in the in the 1960s”, mentions Jamie Perry, JetBlue’s vice president of marketing. With that, the airline’s marketing team partnered up with leading brands and spent days researching and seeking iconic inspiration through original advertisements, images, typographies, and other distinctive elements of 1960s design to imagine what a mid-century JetBlue would have been like.
The result? A one-of-a-kind retrojet specially designed as a tribute to the iconic jet age of air travel, highlighting the airline’s characteristically ingenious style. The Airbus A320 (N763JB • MSN 3707), named “What’s Old Is Blue Again“, features a blue and orange version of the extremely popular ‘cheatline’, iconic element of 1960s livery design.
Next to the fuselage’s JetBlue Airways titles -adorned with a typography contemporary to the era- the titles ‘New York International’ have been added, consistent with the airline’s strong marketing campaign to position itself as ‘New York’s Hometown Airline®’. The aircraft’s tail is adorned with a jazz-themed font, another characteristic element of 1960s design.
To celebrate the introduction of the new retrojet, JetBlue has strategically selected the winter-seasonal inaugural between New York’s John F. Kennedy and Palm Springs International Airport (PSP). The iconic mid-century style and architecture that identifies the Californian desert city made it an easy choice for the introduction, being a destination that stands out for blending modern trends with its nostalgic Hollywoodesque past.
A gate-side fashion show at JetBlue’s home at JFK’s Terminal 5 marked the celebration of the special flight, featuring JetBlue crewmembers wearing retro uniforms with custom-designed hats, scarves, and ties specially crafted for the occasion. The JetBlue crewmembers were joined at the fashion show by models exhibiting the latest looks of quintessentially-Californian designer Trina Turk, enhancing the elements of the Golden State that inspired the event.
And to complete the retro experience and the throwback to the nostalgic ‘golden days’ of air travel, the gate-side event was also joined by the TWA Clipped Wings, a non-profit philanthropic organization established in the 1940s by hostesses and flights attendants of TWA, who brought back the glory days of the iconic Trans World by modeling their original uniforms from various eras of its history.
The gesture pays tribute to the original tenant of jetBlue’s Terminal 5 home, whose globally-distinguished TWA Flight Center designed by Eero Saarinen is preserved today as a central feature of the complex, inaugurated by JetBlue in 2008.
The mid-century vibe extended beyond the fashion show, with the flight’s gate staff and cabin crew members wearing the retro uniforms designed for the occasion. Passengers onboard flight 149 to Palm Springs’ seasonal inaugural received a vintage-inspired amenity kit featuring luggage tags, playing cards, pins, and mid-century-inspired postcards from JetBlue’s most important destinations.
Details were not overlooked, with small elements that enhanced the 1960s vibe such as retro-branded napkins being provided with the service. During the flight, loyalty points form JetBlue’s TrueBlue frequent-flyer program and a pair of round trip tickets to any of the airline’s destinations were raffled to a few lucky passengers by JetBlue’s director of loyalty marketing, along with tickets and vouchers to some of Palm Springs attractions by representatives of the city’s visitors’ bureau.
Upon arrival in Palm Springs, passengers and staff were welcomed with a special reception involving treats, beverages, and the presence of Italian-American fashion model and actor Fabio as special guest.
Welcome speeches were performed by city representatives and JetBlue’s PSP staff, highlighting the importance of Palm Springs in JetBlue’s network, what it means for Palm Springs to count with JetBlue’s nonstop service to New York, ending a one-of-a-kind event in the U.S. airline industry on a high note.