Skift Take

The partnership enables JetBlue to do business with a younger clientele, particularly beyond the U.S. East Coast. Hopper filled a gaping hole in its airline lineup.

App-only Hopper, which claims to be the third largest online travel agency in North America, filled a hole in its schedules and fintech offerings by partnering with JetBlue.

The new agreement, which Hopper is announcing Wednesday, means that JetBlue flights are being sold through the Hopper app, and its partner Capital One Travel. Hopper didn’t offer JetBlue flights previously.

In an interview a few days ago, Kiera Haining, head of Hopper’s flights marketplace, called the partnership “a major win for customers” to round out Hopper’s offering, adding that getting the deal done was a major priority.

The first priority will be adding JetBlue’s flights, and then Hopper plans on introducing its fintech products, such its price freeze, on the airline’s flights. This enables customers to lock in a fare for a certain period for a fee, for example.

Skift indeed saw JetBlue flights being offered through Hopper distribution partner Capital One, and Hopper’s price freeze was being offered as well.

On a $264 JetBlue San Juan, Puerto Rico to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic roundtrip on Capital One Travel, Hopper was offering a one-day price freeze costing $17 or 1,700 miles. To freeze the JetBlue fare for seven days on Capital One, it would cost $44 or 4,400 miles.

Hopper covers the difference if the fare rises up to a $500 maximum. If you froze the fare at $264 and it falls to $250, for example, you’d pay the $250 fare but you would lose the price freeze amount that you paid.

For its part, JetBlue said in a statement that Hopper will enable the airline to reach customers who aren’t in its core geographies, or those who wouldn’t book directly with JetBlue.

“We are excited to partner with Hopper to bring the JetBlue experience to more customers outside of our core geographies,” JetBlue stated. “As an airline, partnering with a small set of OTAs [online travel agencies] that share our high standards of quality allows us to ensure our product is displayed as accurately as possible.

“While nearly three quarters of JetBlue customers are booking directly through the airline, working with the right OTAs helps us reach travelers who may not automatically go to jetblue.com when they go to book a flight, or those who might be less likely to consider JetBlue because we have a relatively small footprint in their market.”

JetBlue’s strength is in New York, Boston, Fort Lauderdale and Orlando, Florida.

The agreement calls for Hopper to receive all JetBlue content, including code-share schedules.

“This deal encompasses all JetBlue marketed content including codeshare content,” Hopper stated. “We have a long-standing partnership to offer all AA-marketed flights, including AA flights operated by B6 (JetBlue). This partnership expands our supply to include B6-marketed flights.”

Neither party would provide details on the economics of the deal. Haining said JetBlue saw Hopper’s growth trajectory as attractive.

One of JetBlue’s concerns — or that of most airlines, for that matter — is to ensure that its schedules, fares and content are being portrayed correctly through a third party site. Hopper displays JetBlue’s various fare families, for example.

Hopper is now the third largest online travel agency in gross bookings in North America behind Expedia Group (#1) and Fareportal/CheapOair (#2) based on global distribution system Marketing Information Data Tapes, which measure flight bookings, Hopper stated.

Hopper stated it has 9.7 percent share of third party flight bookings in the U.S., and said its 2022 sales, including travel and fintech, are up four to five times year over year and are on track to reach $4.5 billion. To put that in context, Expedia Group’s 2021 gross bookings were $72 billion.

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Tags: airlines, apps, capitalone, cheapoair, expedia, fareportal, fintech, flights, hopper, jetblue, jetblue airways, online travel newsletter, travel

Photo credit: The tail of a JetBlue A321LR. The airlines flights are now being offered by Hopper. JetBlue Airways

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