Six hundred lucky passengers will be flying for $4 between Long Beach and Burbank during "Carmageddon" on four flights specially added by JetBlue Airways as a marketing offer. It sold out in three short hours Wednesday afternoon, the airline said.
The airline on Monday began brainstorming the idea of helping L.A.-area drivers bemoaning expected gridlock from the weekend 405 freeway closure, said JetBlue Airways spokeswoman Alison Croyle. She said it required a bit more time to be greenlighted by Southern California Air Traffic Control and both airports to add the two flights each way, Croyle said. (Long Beach Airport has a daily slot limit due to its city noise ordinance).
"It was a bit jaw-dropping for people," Croyle said after the sell-out. "It was just a really fun innovative way for us to
assist the L.A. community...and reading the anxiety and strain (Carmageddon) is going to cause the community, we put our thinking caps on Monday. Being a pretty nimble airline, we were able to pull it together pretty quickly and our operations was able to clear the flights."
The $4 flights for Saturday only went on sale via emailed press release and tweet at about 12:30 p.m. and sold out--four Airbus320 and Embraer190 planes at 150 seats each--at 3:30 p.m. Wistful passengers vying to purchase the tickets received the sad tweet by 4 p.m. that the sale was over.
The $4 price includes taxes and fees and one free checked bag. For $1 more, passengers were offered a seat with extra leg room and early boarding. The flights last about 35 minutes.
Normally, there are no flights between the two airports. Burbank has two daily JetBlue flights to New York (Forest Hills, NY is its base) and 30flights daily out of Long Beach, where it has focused its West Coast operations since 2001. Croyle would not release JetBlue's cost for the special but said, "The value to us is to introduce customers who may not have tried us before, because our research shows that once people fly JetBlue they tend to be loyal customers."
There is one other deal remaining for Carmageddon: The airline is also offering a discounted travel weekend to Las Vegas for weary Southern California commuters seeking to escape the region's web of likely-choked up freeways. The deal: about $100 per person, two traveling, for JetBlue airfare and hotel, said Croyle. She estimated a 40.5% discount.
Starting just after midnight July 15, the San Diego (405) Freeway will be shut down in both directions from Getty Center Drive to the 101 Freeway for 53 hours, so that the south side of the Mulholland Bridge can be demolished.
The freeway section is expected to reopen at 6 a.m. July 18, say transportation officials.