I understand why JetBlue's IATA code isn't JB since that belongs to a pre-existing helijet service in Canada, but why is it B6?

Is there some history behind the B6 moniker?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I've pinged JetBlue via Twitter, hopefully they have an answer. $\endgroup$ Oct 1 '15 at 0:49
  • $\begingroup$ @SargunDhillon Seems, they didn't! :> $\endgroup$
    – trejder
    May 13 '16 at 8:09
  • $\begingroup$ @trejder Look at Sargun's comment on RedGrittyBrick's answer. $\endgroup$
    – reirab
    Nov 22 '17 at 20:33
  • $\begingroup$ Software devs know - same reason we have k8s and i18n I suspect. $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec
    Feb 28 '18 at 7:48

I don't know, but ...

If you look at the IATA application form you will see there is nowhere for the airline to indicate the code it would like to receive.

I imagine many new airlines might indicate a preference in an accompanying letter (e.g. they would like a code starting with a specific letter)

If you look at the allocated codes you can see that, initially, some attempt was made by IATA to make the two-character codes mnemonic

AA = American Airlines
BA = British Airways

However if JB was already allocated, it is reasonable that the IATA staff would look for an available code starting with either J or B. Since the Blue of JetBlue is more distinguishing than the Jet part of the name, the IATA employee may have started with B and noticed that the following were already allocated

B1 Bravo Passenger Solution Pte., Ltd. 
B2 Belavia 
B3 Bhutan Airlines dba Tashi Air Pvt L 
B4 ZanAir Limited 
B5 East African Safari Air Express Ltd.

(note I have not checked dates these codes were allocated but the hypothesis seems plausible to me)

The last two are puzzling but perhaps they changed their names (perhaps as part of a takeover, merger or split). Airline codes do get reused. For example, B5 was used by FlightLine before it went out of business.

Then B6 would be the next available code.

  • $\begingroup$ I think you're right about it just being next in line. If you look at the years they were founded they go in sequence. I don't think the B has any significance since the airline was having major trouble coming up with a name and went through several, so they just got the next in sequence. If they had a name from the start they might have been able to get something specific but they apparently came up with jetblue at the last moment. $\endgroup$
    – TomMcW
    Oct 1 '15 at 3:00
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ This seems correct: i.imgur.com/qcos5eW.png. The IATA naming process seems somewhat opaque. $\endgroup$ Oct 1 '15 at 17:28
  • $\begingroup$ VERY interesting. I always wondered why the Concord was SpeedBird, now it seems IATA staff are a bit arbitrary and capricious !!! $\endgroup$
    – jwzumwalt
    Aug 11 '18 at 1:23
  • $\begingroup$ @jzumwalt Speedbird is the British Airways callsign, not limited to Concorde. It's Speedbird for historic reasons (the callsign of the BOAC, which was established before the IATA existed). $\endgroup$
    – Sanchises
    Aug 11 '18 at 8:30

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