14
$\begingroup$

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?

$\endgroup$
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I've pinged JetBlue via Twitter, hopefully they have an answer. $\endgroup$ – Sargun Dhillon 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
13
+50
$\begingroup$

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
etc

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.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ 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. $\endgroup$ – Sargun Dhillon 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

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.