June 27, 2022

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Who loses if JetBlue buys Spirit? Comedians

2 min read

Travelers check in for a Spirit Airlines flight at Orlando International Airport on the Friday before Memorial Day.

Paul Hennessy | Lightrocket | Getty Images

JetBlue’s surprise $3.6 billion cash bid for Spirit is threatening the latter’s plan to merge with Frontier into a discount airline behemoth. It’s also threatening one of comedians’ favorite sources of material.

“It’s kind of a bummer for me. If there’s no Spirit anymore who are we going to make fun of?” Jimmy Kimmel quipped Wednesday in his “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” monologue. “Look out, Allegiant. You’re on deck.”

New York-based JetBlue wants to absorb Florida-headquartered Spirit and change Spirit’s bright-yellow planes, which feature seats that don’t recline, to match JetBlue’s jets, which offer roomier seating, seatback screens and free snacks.

Spirit’s rock-bottom airfare and fees for everything including seat selection and carry-on bags have provided comedians with years of fodder and become a go-to reference for the indignities of air travel. Major airlines have taken a cue from discounters with basic economy fares, which don’t include advance seat selection and force passengers to board last.

Spirit accounted for just under 5% of passengers carried by U.S. airlines last year. Yet it was mentioned 40 times on late-night talk shows in 2021, representing 20% of total airline mentions on those programs, according to an analysis conducted for the airline, which was seen by CNBC.

Kimmel said Wednesday that JetBlue wants to buy Spirit for $3.6 billion “plus $55 extra for carry-on luggage.”

“Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon also cited JetBlue’s offer in Wednesday monologue. “Right now Spirit is like, ‘Guys, we better open a bank account. I think it’s time.'”

‘You have to have thick skin’

No airline has gone unscathed from late-night shows’ spotlight. Spirit’s analysis showed American had 77 mentions last year, while Southwest had 50 and Delta had 34. There are also countless standup clips and memes poking fun…

2022-04-07 15:26:43

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