JetBlue Airways said Monday it will upgrade its 130 Airbus A320s from nose-to-tail beginning in 2017, adding large high-definition television screens with more than 100 channels, in-seat power and fancy LED lighting.
The airline is shrinking legroom, bathrooms and galleys so it can add 12 seats to each plane. JetBlue will also put in 10 new seats on many of its A321s - the ones that now have 190 seats - but those planes are relatively new and won't be overhauled. (Planes with JetBlue's popular MINT business class cabins won't be touch at all.)
"We are still confident that when you sit in the seat you will find it is an overall better experience," Jamie Perry, JetBlue's vice president for brand and product development, tells briansumers.com. "I know this is good, and I know customers are going to like it."
How bad will it be?
According to the airline's website, A320s now have seat pitch of 34 inches in regular economy and 37 to 38 inches in the "Even More Space" section, while A321s have 33 inches in economy and 37-41 inches in the extra legroom section.
After retrofits, JetBlue will have roughly 32 inches of pitch in regular economy and 35 inches in "Even More Space." Seats in regular economy will still have 1-2 more inches of pitch than on most U.S. airlines. The premium section will be about average compared to competitors, or maybe an inch more.
"It's a little bit of a pitch change, but it's not massive," Perry says. "Pitch is a nice number to use for caparison purposes but you need to think more about the overall experience and comfort."
It could have been worse. In 2014, when JetBlue told Wall Street it would add seats to increase revenues, it planned to add 15 seats to its A320s. But once it started exploring configurations, it decided that was too many. Then again, JetBlue also told investors it would not touch any A321s, and it changed its mind.
JetBlue is smart, so it tied the announcement about new seats with news of the A320 refurbishment. Some A320s have been around for 15 years, and more than other planes in the fleet, they're showing their age.
JetBlue will improve the A320s between 2017 and 2019. Here's some of what the airline says to expect.
- A new 10-inch, 1280p, high definition-capable touch screen at every seat, roughly double the size of today's screen.
- Gate-to-gate free WiFi. (Now it only works over 10,000 feet)
- More than 100 free TV channels, up from 36 now.
- As many as 300 on demand TV shows and films.
- A TV system that works on Android software, which means it will be easier for the airline to keep technology current.
- AC and USB Power at every seat.
- You should be able to pair your personal device with the screens on the plane.
- LED cabin lighting
- New leather seats. (These are the same B/E Aerospace Pinnacle seats JetBlue already has on its A321s.)
Here's a JetBlue graphic describing the new seats and cabin updates.
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