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Photograph: Will Gleason for Time Out

I took the first JetBlue direct flight from JFK to Belize—here's what it was like

The airline launches the new route this month with limited $119 tickets.

Will Gleason
Written by
Will Gleason

Traveling from Queens to a tropical paradise in under five hours? You better Belize it!

JetBlue launched a brand-new direct flight from NYC to Belize City this month, and Time Out was one of first few to be able to take advantage of new “runway to reef” service. 

On the morning of the inaugural flight, I could hear the joyful gate celebration taking place halfway down the terminal. At the end of the concourse, an arch with balloons had been erected, Belizean food was being handed out and a lively Garifuna musical performance was taking place to mark the auspicious first day of the new service. (JetBlue is now the only airline offering direct service from JFK to the Central American hotspot.)

Ribbon cutting at JFK
Photograph: Will GleasonRibbon cutting at JFK

“We’re thrilled to add Belize to our growing network and offer our customers more choices to experience unique and popular destinations,” said David Jehn, JetBlue’s VP of network planning and airline partnerships, in a statement directly following the celebration. “Adding nonstop service to Belize enhances our presence in Latin America and the Caribbean and demonstrates our commitment to introducing our low fares and great service to more destinations and customers.”

After taking in my first-ever pre-9am live drum performance, it was time to board the plane for the quick four-and-a-half-hour flight. JetBlue is operating an Airbus A320 aircraft on the new international route with spacious legroom and free Wifi. Every seat back pocket on the plane had either an American or Belizean flag, and we soon discovered that our pilot for the morning was a Belizean native. Throughout the flight, the fun continued with live Belize-themed seat Bingo and more celebratory announcements.

In-flight bingo
Photograph: Will GleasonIn-flight bingo

The new flight schedule between New York (JFK) and Belize City (BZE) sees direct flights between the two countries taking place on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. The morning flight leaves at 9:10am and arrives at 12:46pm, and the return flight leaves Belize at 1:55pm getting back to New York at 6:56pm. All in all, the timing couldn’t be better. You can leave your NYC apartment at the not-too-early hour of 6am and arrive at your hotel in Belize in time for lunch. 

When our plane touched down in the vibrant country—full of ancient Mayan ruins, pristine tropical islands and stunning reefs—we were met on the runway by a welcome party unfurling giant flags of both countries along with more music. More importantly, however, we were met with 80-degree weather and brilliant, blinding sunshine. We had certainly traveled far from Queens.

The welcome party
Photograph: Will GleasonThe welcome party

Looking to take advantage of the new service to plan your own trip to Belize? (Heads up: The airline is offering limited $119 one-way tickets on to mark the new service.) Read up on Time Out’s best things to do in Belize here.

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