This new low-cost airline wants to be the most beautiful airline in the sky. Did he pass our test?


Since United Airlines invited passengers to “Fly the Friendly Skies,” one airline has not based its brand identity so much on friendliness and kindness. While United’s version of friendly skies resulted in a passenger being dragged out of a plane and a dead puppy and a dead rabbit in the overhead compartment, then this might not be the best comparison. More recently, passengers on all airlines have acted like irrational toddlers by refusing to wear their masks, despite federal laws requiring them to do so. Obviously, an airline has no control over anti-masking goons or disruptive passengers.

However, airlines have control over the passenger experience. For example: How did the flight attendants of a recent Breeze Airways flight from Providence to Charleston treat a man with a cast on his arm (that’s me) who awkwardly boarded with carry-on? When I was walking down the aisle, an air hostess spotted me and before I even tried to put my carry-on in the overhead compartment, she offered to do it for me. In contrast, I was on another airline two weeks ago with my arm injured and there was no offer of help with my carry-on (not even from other passengers who just looked at me. fixedly). Breeze Airways was unaware that there was a travel editor on board and, in accordance with Globe policy, there were no freebies.

This show of kindness could have been a fluke. But on the trip back to Providence, a flight attendant stepped in again and offered to help her with my carry-on. I understand that this is not a life changing act of kindness, but it is certainly memorable. Kindness and a smile seem like a smart strategy for Breeze to set itself apart from competitors like Spirit, Allegiant, and Frontier.

David Neeleman, the founder of JetBlue and several other airlines, poses in front of a plane from his latest project, Breeze Airways.CeanOrrett

Breeze also tries to differentiate itself from its competitors by focusing on underserved markets. Breeze Airways is the creation of JetBlue founder David Neeleman, and he hopes to carve out a niche for Breeze by avoiding major hubs (like Logan) and instead offering non-stop service between secondary cities or major airlines. have a minor presence (like Providence). This summer, Breeze flew to 16 airports, mainly in the south and northeast.

This is a low cost airline with a la carte extras like charging you for carry-on baggage or choosing your own seat. But let’s break it down with our Nice-o-Meter practice and see how Breeze ranks.

Price: When Breeze launched, it did so with introductory rates as low as $ 39 (at the time of this writing, those were rates from Providence to Pittsburgh for $ 44). But when you start adding extra amenities, the base rate (called Nice) can quickly go up. If you want to bring hand luggage, you will need to pay an additional $ 20 (a personal item is free). The bonus is that checked baggage is also $ 20. You can therefore board with a single personal item and check in any other bag for the same price as hand luggage. Choosing your own seat will cost you an additional $ 10-20, depending on the flight. Breeze Airways flies Embraer jets, which have two seats on either side of the aisle. This means that if you choose not to pay for a seat, at least there is no problem, you will be stuck in a middle seat.

Despite these additions, an interesting benefit is that families don’t need to pay to sit together. Families traveling with children 12 and under can sit together.

If you’re splurging for a nicer fare, you don’t have to worry about the add-ons. The fare includes more legroom, one hand baggage, one checked baggage, your choice of seat and priority boarding. Depending on the route and time of year, the Nicer fare will cost around $ 50 more, give or take, than the Nice fare.

Price friendliness rating: ??

Sitting comfort: A lot of times a low-cost airline means you end up with seat comfort that rivals that of a prison bench (as always, I’m looking at you Spirit Airlines). But Breeze Airways offers a more human experience. The budget seats on Breeze Airways E190 planes have a pitch of 29 inches (the distance between the backs of the seats). The comfortable seats of the E195 jets from Breeze have a pitch of 31 inches.

In comparison, Spirit and Frontier seats are as little as 28 inches in height while American, Delta, and United are at least 30 inches. If you go for the Nicer fare, your seat will have a pitch of 33 to 39 inches on E190 planes, and 34 to 39 inches on E195 jets. I tried the Nice and Nicer seats. Naturally, the Nicer seats were, well, nicer. I could really stretch. But even my seat at the Nice rate did not seem particularly cramped.

Seat comfort rating: ??

Registration procedure: Breeze only has one check-in desk at TF Green and the staff were friendly. Breeze focuses on ease of registration through technology and has a user-friendly app and website to make the process easier. If you don’t print your own boarding pass or don’t have it on your phone, you will be charged $ 3. The airline has the advantage of being at TF Green, which means check-in is much less stressful than at a major airport. I always look forward to flying away from Providence.

Check-in friendliness rating: ??

Cancellation policy: Neeleman took inspiration from Southwest Airlines when it came to Breeze’s cancellation policy. Whichever fare option you choose, you can rebook or cancel up to 15 minutes before your scheduled departure without penalty. You then benefit from a loan to be used within two years.

Cancellation policy kindness note: 👍 + 😃

Flight experience: Things get very basic after take off. There is no Wi-Fi, free or not. There are also no folder screens, so prepare for the flight with downloaded entertainment or a book. Your options for drinks during the flight are water – or water. To taste it, you have the choice between a bag of Utz chips or a very small Kind bar. Breeze flights are usually short, so you are likely to survive on the water and without entertainment.

Kindness note in flight: ??

When you add up our very scientific cuteness rating, the end score is that Breeze Airways does well on its user-friendliness guarantee. For a budget airline, the seats are comfortable, the cancellation policy is top notch, and the focus on technology is smart. The cabin experience isn’t great, but I suspect bargain hunters will forget about it.

Breeze plans to expand its current roadmap. She has 60 Airbus A220s on order. The larger A220 will be assigned to longer routes that Breeze plans to announce in the coming months. These larger planes will also have a business class cabin. I’m going to take a risk and assume the first class will be called the prettiest.

If the airline is able to maintain a happy and helpful staff as it grows up, it could very well deliver on its fine promises. There is room in the market for a low-cost airline that treats passengers well, especially awkward passengers with broken wrists.

Christopher Muther can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Chris_Muther.


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