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Paying $7 for a nap on JetBlue

AIRLINES

The carrier is charging for 'eco-friendly' blankets and pillows.

August 05, 2008|Andrea Chang | Times Staff Writer

A cozy snooze will now come at a cost on some JetBlue Airways flights.

The airline said Monday that it had begun offering "eco-friendly" blankets and pillows to passengers on flights longer than two hours. The take-home kits replaced JetBlue's once-free pillows and blankets and cost $7.

It's the latest in a string of fees that airlines have been tacking on to previously complimentary amenities, including food, beverages and checking luggage. The charges have come as airlines struggle to generate extra revenue to help offset the fast-rising cost of fuel and a lagging economy that has kept many would-be travelers at home.

But JetBlue downplayed the cost of the kits, saying each came with a $5 coupon to Bed Bath & Beyond and would not add a significant amount of revenue to the company.

"In this environment, we are looking for ways to increase revenue and keep fares low," said Alison Eshelman, a JetBlue spokeswoman. But "our purpose is not to nickel-and-dime our customers."

Instead JetBlue, a low-fare carrier that already charges passengers for headphones and some beverages and movies, promoted the "advanced technology" of its new products.

According to the airline, the plush pillow is made from a fabric that "blocks all micro-toxins larger than one micron in size," such as dust mites, mold spores, pollen and pet dander.

"This state-of-the-art, high-quality take-home kit is an eco-conscious, health-conscious and customer-conscious decision," said Brett Muney, general manager of product development at JetBlue, which is based in Forest Hills, N.Y.

The airline isn't the first to impose a fee for nap-time comforts. Ultra-low-cost carrier Skybus Airlines, which ceased operations in April, had charged $15 for a pillow and $8 for a blanket.

At Burbank's Bob Hope Airport on Monday afternoon, JetBlue passenger Dina Rodriguez of Oxnard complained that the new kits were adding to the high cost of air travel.

"Seven dollars? I think that's ridiculous," Rodriguez, 23, said. "If that's the case, I'll just bring my own blanket."

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andrea.chang@latimes.com

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