Budget-friendly airline JetBlue is stepping up its game with some swank new seats: As of next year, transcontinental routes will get lie-flat seats much like American Airlines and United are touting on their cross-country service.
The new seats are expected to debut in the market on new Airbus A321 aircraft beginning in the second quarter of 2014 on the New York to Los Angeles and New York to San Francisco routes. In addition, we hear that JetBlue will be the first airline with a completely separate single suite seat that includes a closable door for increased privacy.
The new lie-flat seat, created in a partnership with Northern Ireland-based Thompson Aero Seating, will be arranged in a 2-1 configuration. Rows 1, 3 and 5 will have 2-by-2 seating, and rows 2 and 4 will have private suites, with one seat on each side of the aisle. The new seats themselves have air cushions with adjustable firmness, a massage function, a 15-inch widescreen television and a unique "wake-me-for-service" indicator for those who want to sleep in.
Bonus for flyers who want to stay connected in the air: JetBlue's subsidiary LiveTV will begin installing Fly-Fi on JetBlue's fleet by the end of the year, a new high-speed, satellite-based wi-fi product that will offer broadband speeds and (we hear) serve as the fastest internet access at altitude.
JetBlue expects to increase frequencies on JFK-LAX and JFK-SFO with new Airbus A321 aircraft next year. There will be a dedicated sub-fleet of 11 aircraft initially used for the two core transcontinental routes. Additional markets are possible, based on customer response and demand for more service. On an industry-wide basis, revenue from the New York JFK-Los Angeles and JFK-San Francisco markets is more than 50 percent higher than any other route in the United States, as airlines have dedicated more premium seats and charged much higher fares on these routes on a per-mile basis. There are more than 6,000 passengers each day on the two routes combined, independent Diio data show.
JetBlue's new Airbus A321 aircraft begin arriving later this year and will have two configurations. In 2014 additional A321s will be delivered from the Airbus factory in Hamburg, Germany, with 16 lie-flat seats, four of which are the private suites, and 143 core JetBlue Experience seats.