Behind JetBlue's decision to add 15 seats to its Airbus A320s

JetBlue Airways said Wednesday it will add 15 seats to its now 150-seat Airbus A320s by 2016, a move that will give passengers considerably less legroom on many of the carrier's flights. 

In announcing the decision, JetBlue essentially blamed competitors for forcing its hand. It noted that just about every North American carrier had shrunk its seat pitch -- the distance between seats -- so much in the past four years that JetBlue had to adapt to keep up. 

Notice the slide here. In about 2007, JetBlue only offered about two more inches of legroom than most of its competitors. Now that spread is a lot bigger, putting the airline at an competitive disadvantage. It simply cannot command enough of a revenue premium to make up for the fact its planes have fewer seats. 

Having two more inches of legroom than other airlines is probably the sweetspot for JetBlue, an executive told investment analysts. 

"We don't think customers are going to pay more for a four-inch advantage than they pay for a two-inch advantage," said Marty St. George, JetBlue's senior vice president, commercial. 

Here's how JetBlue says it will compare with other airlines when it finishes the conversion. These comparisons do not include regional jets operated by other carriers. 

What are your thoughts on JetBlue's decision to reduce legroom and add more seats on its A320s?