JetBlue Airways reports it unveiled its new, fully customized lie-flat seat which will be available on transcontinental routes next year. 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 New York to Los Angeles and New York to San Francisco routes.
In addition, JetBlue said 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," 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."
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 live entertainment 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 said 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.
"Transcontinental routes have had high premium fares we believe we can beat," said 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.
JetBlue also said it 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, JetBlue said.
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, JetBlue said, 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 airline reports. 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.