AER Lingus has hailed a new deal with American low-fares flier JetBlue as a major advance for passengers on both sides of the Atlantic.What they called an industry-first "strategic partnership" was announced last week and will begin operating on April 3.The deal will give Aer Lingus passengers 40 new target destinations in addition to the seven U.S. cities it already serves. JetBlue, the eighth largest U.S. carrier with 550 flights a day, expects to attract more foreign business.Travelers will be able to reserve seats on both carriers through a single booking process at www.aerlingus.comAer Lingus said its transfer desk at John F. Kennedy international airport's Terminal 4 will offer seamless check-in and baggage drop services for customers connecting to JetBlue's home base at Terminal 6.Customers traveling from the U.S. to Ireland will be able to check their bags at their JetBlue domestic departure point and will pick them up again in Dublin or Shannon.The partnership is made possible by a sophisticated, easy-to-use booking process which will be live on www.aerlingus.com from April 3 for travel by the end of April. Customers booking through www.jetblue.com will be quickly transferred with one click to www.aerlingus.com to complete their booking.Aer Lingus CEO Dermot Mannion said, "With a strong customer base, brand strength and position in the U.S. market, JetBlue is a natural partner for Aer Lingus. We are proud to be pioneering the model of linking low fare networks and offering Aer Lingus customers the ability to easily connect across the U.S. through JetBlue's Terminal 6 at JFK."The Sligo native added, "The partnership will also expose millions of U.S. passengers to the Aer Lingus website and brand and further consolidate aerlingus.com as the premier way to book flights to Ireland from North America."Dave Barger, CEO of JetBlue Airways, said, "Our partnership with Aer Lingus is a perfect fit with our brand and culture, and we are thrilled to extend our route network to a vibrant new stream of customers from Ireland."The new destinations more readily available to Irish customers via JFK include Austin, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Burlington, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, New Orleans, San Diego and Seattle.Both Aer Lingus and JetBlue stressed their agreement did not go quite as far as traditional alliances, however, 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."It costs virtually nothing. We're developing this thing in house. We're going to let the machinery do the work," said Mannion.The deal coincided with a separate Aer Lingus announcement that its website passed a significant milestone in January, selling over one million seats in just one month for the first time in the company's history.
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