1st JetBlue flight to Boston sign of lower fares, more flights to come

Discount airline JetBlue Airways began flying out of Detroit Metro Airport today, becoming the first domestic airline to add service there in nine years — and pushing down nonstop fares on the Detroit-Boston route to as low as $79 each way.

The first arriving and departing passengers at the North Terminal’s Gate D15 this morning were treated to balloons, dancing girls, applause, flowery speeches, blue-frosted cupcakes and coney dogs.

“I’ve been bugging my brother for 14 years to start Detroit service,” said Connie Powe-Watts of Williamston, who, it turns out, is the sister of JetBlue CEO Dave Barger. “That’s why there’s no way I would miss this flight” from Boston to Detroit.

Her son, Joshua Powe, is network manager for JetBlue. He said that if service between Detroit and Boston is successful, JetBlue likely will add more service from Metro, possibly from Detroit to Ft. Lauderdale and/or to Washington Reagan National.

With JetBlue’s new permanent counter and gate at the North Terminal “there is a lot of opportunity to expand,” he said. That is significant, because airline consolidation the last five years means competition is scarce, and competition is what keeps fares low. “We’d love to see them add service,” said Thomas Naughton, Wayne County Airport Authority CEO, smiling amid the hoopla this morning.

The Free Press bought a ticket on the first flight, which left at 11:55 a.m. The flight, on a 100-seat Embraer 190 jet, featured goodie bags for each traveler on the first flight, plus its normal service of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, chocolate chip cookies, free seat-back TV and a free first checked bag.

With good weather at both ends, the flight was extremely uneventful — not a bad thing. It disembarked at the C Terminal at Boston Logan Airport. That makes it handy for travelers making connections at the international E Terminal for Boston’s new service to Dubai, which also was launched today by JetBlue partner Emirates Airlines.

Passengers who book quickly should see very low fares on nonstops between Detroit and Boston, which routinely have been running about $400 round-trip on the sole carrier, Delta. As of now, Delta is matching JetBlue’s fares.

In addition to attracting JetBlue, Detroit Metro will welcome Alaska Airlines later this year and its nonstop route between Detroit and Seattle. The last domestic airline to start service out of Detroit Metro before JetBlue was Air Tran in 2005.

JetBlue was founded in 2000. It serves 85 cities.

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