Back in June, 2018, the aviation community first heard of a possible new airline, to be partly founded by David Neeleman. The founder of JetBlue Airways, Azul Brazilian Airlines, WestJet, and Morris Air, Neeleman announced that he would form a new airline named “Moxy Airways.” While that name was changed to “Breeze Airways” due to trademark concerns, the “Moxy” (MXY) call sign remains. Breeze Airways revenue service began with an inaugural flight from Tampa International Airport (TPA) to Charleston International Airport (CHS) on May 27, 2021.
Breeze aims to directly connect smaller, regional airports and earlier this month, Breeze announced 39 routes starting at $39 one-way. By the end of the summer Breeze will serve 16 destinations with 10 Embraer E190s and three E195s. The fares are simple, and the up charges expected. My one-way fare was $49 to CHS (which drops to $39 in June) and I paid $30 to sit in seat 2F. There are three tiers of seating in the cabin. Pre-check in seat assignments cost $10, $20, and $30, based on the seat’s size and location. In addition to the Embraers, Breeze has 81 A220-300s on order. Breeze’s A220s should begin to arrive in October, 2021.
One of those 16 announced destinations is Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport (SDF). The Louisville Regional Airport Authority (LRAA) held a contest through their social media channels to award 10 people the opportunity to fly the inaugural flight from SDF to CHS. So, on May 28, 2021, a group of aviation geeks and passengers gathered at to board the first Breeze Airways flight from SDF to CHS, myself included (I flew on a ticket I had purchased). Pre-inaugural flight activities included speeches from Dan Mann, Executive Director of the LRAA; Lukas Johnson, Chief Commercial Officer, Breeze Airways; Jeffrey Taylor, Commissioner, Business Development for the Commonwealth of Kentucky; Dale Boden, Chair, LRAA Board of Directors. Both Breeze and LRAA had gifts for the passengers, along with the requisite snacks.
After the media announcement of the flight, I purchased my ticket via the Breeze website; the process was easy and intuitive. Breeze added 500 BreezePoints, worth $5 to spend with Breeze Airways, to my guest account for downloading their mobile app. Checking in was equally easy with the app; but unfortunately, at this time, the app does not offer the capability to download the boarding pass to your mobile wallet. On top of that, the electronic boarding passes for those of us returning to SDF seemed to be missing. Some of the passengers had to be issued paper boarding passes for the return flight. Normally, a printed boarding pass would incur a $3 fee, or $9 if staff assists you.
Because I had purchased my ticket prior to setting up my Breeze Guest account; my boarding pass was lacking TSA PreCheck. There is no way to call a Breeze customer service agent, so I utilized their agent via text process to have Pre-Check added to my pass. Flawlessly, Breeze was able to quickly remedy the issue. They corrected the spelling mismatch of my name against the TSA database, checked me out of my flight, added Pre-Check, and had me check back into my flight (with Pre-Check); all via text messaging. This whole process took about 20 minutes.
Our SDF inaugural flight MX150 was on an Embraer E195, registration N190BZ. This is a former Azul aircraft and is the one that Breeze used to run through all its certification flights. Once onboard, the interior looked and smelled brand new. One could hope for some improved lighting when the A220s arrive, since the lack of mood lighting onboard was disappointing to some passengers. Breeze employees were extremely friendly and sometimes apologetic as they continued training during the launch.
The captain and company safety officer both gave speeches after boarding, expressing gratitude that we were all on board and that their months of training have finally culminated to flying revenue-generating passengers. The captain stated there were times that they did not think it would happen. During the message from the safety officer, employees asked to have a photo of all of us displaying the Breeze “check mark.” The “check mark” is holding up the index finger and extending the thumb 90° from the index finger, while tilting the hand so that it does not look like a “L” but like a…” check mark.”
The flight got a late start, most likely due to the concurrent training and a struggle with detaching the tug from the aircraft. We sat for about ten minutes after pushback and positioning. I was watching the fire truck on my side of the aircraft this whole time. Finally, at 12:45 PM EDT, Flight 150, departed under a water cannon salute some 35 minutes late.
During flight, the appeared to hit all of their marks. They also sounded just like every other airline, though I was hoping for something fun akin to the Southwest safety message. I observed that the crew did not push galley carts down the aisle during the beverage service. They carried all refreshments in baskets or in what appeared to be the drawers from a galley cart. Refreshments consisted of a full-sized bag of Utz potato chips and a miniature KIND bar with a small bottle of water. I felt this was very reasonable, especially considering the price I paid for the flight.
During boarding at CHS for the return flight to SDF, the flight suffered a short maintenance delay. The captain did an excellent job of keeping the passengers informed. His message included why we were delayed, what was being done, and how long to expect to wait. An additional delay occurred after pushback for a F-16 in flight emergency. This closed the CHS runway for 25 minutes. I was impressed that the captain made his briefing to the passengers while standing in the main cabin. He made eye contact with all of us, which made it feel much more personable.
Even though both flights had departure delays, I do not think most cared. Still, there are some things Breeze needs to smooth out. Turn time of the flights was slow, though they are still training. The app still needs bugs written out of , and there needs to be a way to download boarding passes to mobile devices for off-network use. Still, it was fun to participate in this launch of Breeze Airways service from Louisville. It appeared the crew was having as much fun as the rest of us. They appear eager to build a “Seriously Nice” airline. I look forward to my next Breeze Airways flight to see how the service has matured, post launch.
Oh, by the way, there was an email from Breeze Airways waiting for me in Louisville. They sent all of us 2,500 BreezePoints ($25.00) for the delay we incurred in CHS; Seriously Nice, thanks.