Breeze Airways Is Launching $249 First-Class Flights Between New York and California

Low-cost startup Breeze Airways expands with coast-to-coast flights and bargain first-class fares.

Breeze Airways Is Launching $249 First-Class Flights Between New York and California

Getting to San Francisco from New York will soon be a breeze.

Photo by Engel Ching/Shutterstock

Sick of paying extortionate airfares for a cramped seat in coach? Breeze Airways, the upstart airline from JetBlue founder David Neeleman, has an alternative: The carrier is launching a flotilla of flights this summer and fall with what it bills as a “screaming deal”—first-class seats on coast-to-coast domestic flights starting at $249 one way, and coach seats at $149 one way.

In a surprise announcement last week, the ultra low–cost carrier said it will add seven nonstop routes out of New York, including transcontinental flights to Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO), and Las Vegas—tweaking its original game plan of sticking to short hops between secondary markets. In this case, though, it’s hewing to its strategy of flying to lesser-known airports: These new flights, Breeze’s largest launch from any single market, will depart from Westchester County Airport in White Plains, about 30 miles north of New York City. Currently, scheduled service out of the mid-size airfield goes no farther west than Chicago.

The move coincides with the airline’s rollout of a new fleet of Airbus A220 jets, equipped with 36 first-class seats in a two-by-two configuration and 90 economy seats in a two-by-three layout (10 of them with extra legroom). Some of the short trips will still use smaller Embraer 190 and 195 regional aircraft.

While Neeleman made New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) his base when he founded JetBlue 22 years ago, he’s apparently now only too happy to exploit consumer dissatisfaction with flying out of congested hubs in New York and other major urban areas. Neeleman, who lived in Connecticut for many years, joked last week that “I wasted tons of time driving to JFK or Newark to travel to the West Coast.”

Neeleman hinted there will be more long hops out of other East Coast airports, including Hartford, Connecticut’s Bradley International, where Breeze has nonstop flights to 11 destinations—among them new flights to Las Vegas, announced just last week.

Breeze’s fares come in three flavors: the no-frills “Nice” class; a mid-price “Nicer” product including things like a free checked bag; and “Nicest” fares, the airline’s version of first class, with bigger seats, more legroom, two checked bags, and free drinks and snacks.

Here’s a rundown of the new services and fares:

From New York/Westchester:

  • Charleston (daily starting June 28, from $79)
  • New Orleans (3x a week starting June 30)
  • Norfolk (5x a week starting June 30, from $49)
  • Jacksonville (3x a week starting June 30, from $79)
  • Los Angeles (daily starting September 7, from $149)
  • Las Vegas (daily starting September 8, from $149)
  • Savannah (2x a week starting September 9, from $79)
  • San Francisco (daily starting November 2, from $149)

Previously announced routes:

To San Francisco:

  • Richmond (2x a week starting May 25)
  • Charleston (3x a week starting May 26)
  • Louisville (2x a week starting May 27)

To Los Angeles:

  • Providence (2x a week starting June 29)
  • Norfolk (3x a week starting June 30)
  • Savannah (2x starting July 1)

To Las Vegas:

  • Richmond (2x a week starting June 9)
  • Syracuse (2x a week starting June 10)
  • Fort Myers (2x a week starting June 11)
  • Charleston (3x a week starting August 5)
  • Jacksonville (3x a week starting August 5)
  • Norfolk (2x a week starting August 4)
  • Hartford (2x a week starting September 7, from $149)
  • Huntsville (2x a week starting August 4)

Breeze, of course, isn’t the only new kid on the block. Other cut-rate startup lines—including Aha! and Avelo—got out of the gate in time to take advantage of the current surge in air travel demand. As the big lines push up prices, these smaller startups are using their low costs to undercut the competition.

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Barbara Peterson is AFAR’s special correspondent for air, covering breaking airline news and major trends in air travel. She is author of Blue Streak: Inside JetBlue, the Upstart That Rocked an Industry and is a winner of the Lowell Thomas Award for Investigative Reporting.