In what seems to be a dramatic shift from its original reputation as a low-cost carrier, jetBlue Airways introduced a new premium class cabin — which offers a mixture of business class lie-flat seats and private mini-suites — to be installed on its fleet of eleven Airbus A321 aircraft which will serve two transcontinental routes in May of 2014.
This shift to premium service is not as dramatic a shift as you might believe, as the cost of this service is expected to be priced significantly less than comparable offerings on transcontinental routes served by Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and American Airlines. In fact, the introduction of a premium class product at a lower price point is seen as a natural progression in expanding the low-cost carrier model.
FlyerTalk members are generally excited about the potential for those who want premium class service but do not want to pay thousands of dollars, which could be considered exorbitant prices to some customers. They are especially intrigued with the area of the cabin marked “Secret” — although that is not stopping FlyerTalk members from speculating what will comprise that “secret” area.
The premium class cabin features a staggered seating plan where rows of lie-flat seats alternate with rows of suites equipped with sliding doors. This maximizes the use of the limited space designated for the premium class cabin — although it integrates private suites with the lie-flat seats, rather than keeping them as separate classes.
Although some amenities to be offered have been announced — such as access to a satellite-based Wi-Fi Internet service, a 15-inch touch-screen television screen with access to greater than 100 channels, and two different types of power sources to be available at each seat — there has been no word at this time as to whether or not there will be any type of meal service.
Does it really matter if there is meal service — especially on overnight flights?
The way I look at it is this: whenever I am a passenger in the premium class cabin on a flight, there are so many amenities of which to take advantage that — more likely than not — I am unable to take advantage of all of them. For example, if I am tired and I am seated in a seat which lies flat, I may be interested in sleeping for most of the flight, rather than watch television, play video games or work on my portable electronic device. I look at it from the point of view that the duration of an overnight transcontinental flight can be five hours — not enough time for a good normal night of sleep when you include departure and landing of the aircraft, where your seat must be in the upright position.
Five hours, however, can be enough time to sleep and forgo a hotel room for the night while saving the time of traveling during the day. Those factors alone of saving time and money while getting a few good hours of sleep can potentially herald the success of this new plan by jetBlue Airways.
The economy class cabin will also be new on transcontinental flights, where the pitch of the seats will be 33 inches; while the pitch of the Even More Space premium economy class seats will be 37 inches. A 10.1-inch touch-screen television screen and two different types of power sources will be available at each seat.
Here is a video showing a peek into the cabins and the seats.
I believe that the introduction of the products announced by jetBlue Airways is a calculated risk which could be a potential game-changer in the transcontinental market — but only time will tell as to whether or not it will truly be a success.
What do you think? Will the introduction of the new products offered by jetBlue Airways entice you to be a passenger on one of their transcontinental flights next year?