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060126 JetBlue will start serving Dunkin' Donuts coffee (not donuts) on its flights. Most people see this as a boost for JetBlue, but as a devoted coffee drinker who prefers their taste, I think this is a coup for Dunkin' Donuts. Many, many more people from outside Dunkin' Donuts current market areas will discover the smooth brew.

HappyNews.com: JetBlue to serve Dunkin' Donuts coffee, AP story by Lauren Villagran (via ExtraTexture)

A recent survey of passengers by JetBlue found that roughly one-third considered the coffee served on airlines worse than their daily cup, and most named coffee as the drink they'd most like to improve, JetBlue said.

Some analysts believe that offering DirecTV, XM satellite radio _ or a cup of name-brand coffee _ can draw passengers. Kent Grayson, an associate marketing professor at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management who has studied the airline industry, said a traveler's choice of airline centers on three things: schedule, price and brand. "If JetBlue associates itself with well-known partners whose brand image has some redundancy with theirs, at the margin, a customer may choose JetBlue over another airline whose brand is not as strong," he said. "On an abstract level, it makes people think JetBlue is a better brand."

JetBlue and Dunkin' Donuts aren't the first to create such a partnership. United Airlines parent UAL Corp. has had a similar deal for years with Starbucks Corp., a relationship that was recently extended for another three years.

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