JetBlue Airways has unveiled a new, fully customized lie-flat seat which will be available on its busiest U.S. transcontinental routes next year.
The carrier expects its new lie-flat seats to debut in the market on new Airbus A321 jets beginning in the second quarter of 2014 on the two most popular non-stop routes in the United States – New York to Los Angeles and New York to San Francisco.
In addition, JetBlue Airways says it will be the first and only airline in the market to offer customers the option of a completely separate single-suite seat that includes a closable door for increased privacy.
“Our customers have requested more premium options on our transcontinental flights and we listened,” says Dave Barger, JetBlue’s CEO. “We decided to enter the premium transcontinental market in a way that only JetBlue can: with an intense focus on offering the best possible product for the best possible price.”
The new lie-flat seat, created in a partnership with Northern Ireland-based Thompson Aero Seating, will be installed in a unique 2-1 alternate-row configuration. Seat rows 1, 3 and 5 will offer 2-by-2 seating, and rows 2 and 4 will offer private suites, with one seat on each side of the aisle.
The new seats also offer air cushions with adjustable firmness, a massage function, a 15-inch widescreen television and a unique “wake-me-for-service” indicator if the customer chooses to sleep in.
In addition, JetBlue will refresh its core in-flight passenger experience in 2014. It will include a comfortable seat design with movable headrests, a new entertainment system with up to 100 channels of DirecTV programming on 10.1-inch widescreens, and 110-volt and USB power ports accessible to all customers.
“Transcontinental routes have had high premium fares we believe we can beat,” says Barger. “By offering our own, unique seats and enriched service elements that will include some soon-to-be-announced partnerships, we are creating a one-of-a-kind experience that will serve this market in a way only JetBlue can.”
JetBlue’s wholly owned subsidiary LiveTV will begin installing ‘Fly-Fi’ on JetBlue’s fleet by the end of the year. Fly-Fi is a new high-speed, satellite-based, in-flight Wi-fi product that will offer true broadband speeds and serve as the fastest internet access at altitude, according to JetBlue.
“We believe Fly-Fi will be a competitive advantage in the market for JetBlue,” says Barger. “This is not the slow Wi-Fi you get on other airlines today. This will be connectivity at speeds you’ve come to expect on the ground.”
JetBlue expects to increase frequencies on its JFK-Los Angeles and JFK-San Francisco routes with new Airbus A321 jets next year. There will be a dedicated sub-fleet of 11 aircraft initially used for the two core transcontinental routes. Additional A321 premium-service markets might be introduced, based on customer response and demand for more service.
“We expect to invigorate the market with our competitive price,” says Barger. “Building on our original strategy of serving the under-served with a unique product and service-focused culture, we believe this new product will be very popular with current coast-to-coast customers, and may motivate new customers to choose JetBlue.”
On an industry-wide basis, revenue from the New York JFK-Los Angeles and JFK-San Francisco markets is more than 50 per cent higher than any other route in the United States, according to JetBlue, because 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 will begin taking delivery of its new Airbus A321s begin arriving later this year and it will take them in two different seating configurations.
The first four aircraft deliveries will offer the core JetBlue in-flight experience throughout the cabin, providing seat capacity for 190 passengers. In 2014 additional A321s will be delivered from the Airbus factory in Hamburg, Germany, each fitted with 16 lie-flat seats (four of which are the private suites) and 143 regular JetBlue seats.