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JetBlue, Aer Lingus forge international alliance

JetBlue, America’s low-cost darling, and Aer Lingus, Ireland’s (now unofficial) national carrier, have announced they’ll form a “ticket-booking alliance,” according to a Reuters report.

Aer Lingus has undergone quite a few changes since I last flew on the carrier. Gone are the “frills,” such as they were, replaced instead with a streamlined just-the-basics approach meant to keep costs down in the face of fierce competition from Irish discounter Ryanair.

JetBlue, meanwhile, has been publicly seeking an international partner for months, and may not be done yet. Airline spokesperson Bryan Baldwin says the carrier is “still in partnership talks with other international carriers.”

And, with JetBlue being something of a nontraditional airline, it should come as no surprise that this partnership is somewhat nontraditional as well. Reuters says, “Both Aer Lingus and JetBlue stressed their agreement did not go quite as far as traditional alliances … because there was no code-sharing deal to allow them to sell seats on one another’s planes as if they were their own. Instead there will be buttons on each other’s Websites that connect the two.”

In other words, it remains to be seen if this particular arrangement is actually all that helpful to flyers (my guess: not so much) or if it’s just a convenient way for JetBlue and Aer Lingus to reach each other’s customers.

I’m thinking JetBlue customers will also find themselves a little disappointed by Aer Lingus’ pronounced lack of creature comforts, too.

In short? This may make sense from a strategic and money-making standpoint, but flyers should expect an Atlantic-sized gap in service quality between the two airlines.

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