The fifth largest airline in the United States, JetBlue—founded in 1998—is headquartered in Long Island City, Queens. With its primary base at New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, it operates frequent flights in and out of Fort Lauderdale, Boston, San Juan, and Orlando. JetBlue flies to 93 destinations across the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Latin America, including Aruba, the Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Grenada, Jamaica, Peru, Saint Maarten, Saint Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago. In 2015 alone, JetBlue carried over 35 million passengers and operated 900 flights per day.
Founded by former Southwest employees, the low-cost airline commenced operations in 2000. Founder Jeff Neeleman explained that he wanted JetBlue “to bring humanity back to air travel,” by providing complimentary snacks and non-alcoholic beverages as well as in-flight entertainment in the form of JetBlue’s signature seat-back televisions.
The company originally sought to name the airline “Taxi,” complete with yellow livery, to highlight their connection to New York City (and its iconic cabs). Investors, however, threatened to withdraw their share in protest: “taxi” is a verb, not a noun, on airfields, and not everyone feels fondly about New York’s cab fleet. Southwest was one of only a handful of U.S. airlines to make a profit following September 11, 2001. In 2016, it became one of the nation’s first airlines to be granted a license to commence charter flights to Cuba.
In 2010, JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater captured the nation’s attention with his dramatic announcement to quit. He famously broadcast over the public address system on a flight from Pittsburgh to New York that he was sick of customer abuse and that he was leaving his job. He then grabbed two beers and his luggage, before deploying the plane’s evacuation slides. He slid down to freedom, fame, and, eventually, a lawsuit from JetBlue. He owes them $10,000 for the slide.