JetBlue Airways, New York’s Hometown Airline, today unveiled its new, fully customized lie-flat seat which will be available on highly popular transcontinental routes next year. Just as JetBlue reinvented coach service, the airline is committed to reinventing the transcontinental experience by adding service, comfort and amenities at an affordable price that is expected to stimulate market demand.
New lie-flat seats are expected to debut in the market on new Airbus A321 aircraft beginning in the second quarter of 2014 on the two most popular nonstop routes in the United States – New York to Los Angeles and New York to San Francisco. In addition, JetBlue 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,” said JetBlue CEO Dave Barger. “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.”
Mr. Barger introduced the new seat at the Global Business Travel Association convention in San Diego. A computer-generated video of the new, enhanced experience, as well as JetBlue’s refinements to the already-popular core JetBlue Experience, can be seen here.
The new lie-flat seat, created in a partnership with Northern Ireland-based Thompson Aero Seating, will be displayed in a unique 2-1 configuration. 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 featuring the most live entertainment in the skies, and a unique “wake-me-for-service” indicator if the customer chooses to sleep in, putting more control back into the customer’s hands. In addition, JetBlue will refresh the core JetBlue Experience in 2014 which 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. And of course, more legroom throughout coach than any other U.S. airline.
High Fares We Can Beat
“Transcontinental routes have had high premium fares we believe we can beat,” said Mr. 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, a new high-speed, satellite-based wi-fi product that will offer true broadband speeds and serve as the fastest internet access at altitude. “We believe Fly-Fi will be a competitive advantage in the market for JetBlue,” Mr. Barger said. “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 JFK-LAX and JFK-SFO with new Airbus A321 aircraft next year to offer even more options, convenience and comfort for customers. 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.
“We expect to invigorate the market with our competitive price,” Mr. Barger said. “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% 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. The first four aircraft deliveries will offer the core JetBlue Experience throughout the cabin with capacity for 190 customers. 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.