JetBlue Plans To Offer Mini-Suites On Transcon Flights

by on June 13, 2013 · 6 comments

in JetBlue

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A few months ago, I posted about how JetBlue planned to add premium seats on transcon flights. Earlier this week, details emerged via APEX about how these premium seats – in what is possibly a huge departure from JetBlue’s entire egalitarian philosophy – will include mini-suites on these routes.

JetBlue plans to add mini-suites on their transcon flights.

JetBlue plans to add mini-suites on their transcon flights.

When it comes to the transcontinental market for flights between New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco, there is a ton of competition since these are  the most lucrative domestic routes with the lion’s share of business travelers. Currently these routes are served by Delta, American, United, Virgin America and JetBlue.  Of these five carriers, the only one that doesn’t operate a premium cabin is JetBlue, but that’s soon to change.

JetBlue filed with the FAA to change its seating layout and the filing included the following details:

“The cabin proposed for the JetBlue Airways A321 (U.S. operator) is a two class layout, with 16 business class seats and 143 economy class seats (159 passengers),” says Airbus.

“The Business Class includes 4 single seats that are ‘mini-suites’ types. These mini-suites consist in a seat with surrounding furniture’s, intending to provide privacy to the occupants. Typically, the complete closure of the single mini-suites is possible by means of a sliding element, moving parallel to the aircraft longitudinal axis”

So it sounds like in addition to a new business class, there will actually be an ultra-premium first class on the airline’s new A321 aircraft, which are scheduled for delivery by the end of this year. There will be 16 premium seats total which will be broken down into 4 first class suites, and 12 business class seats. These will only be used for their transcon flights, but if they do well, it’s possible that JetBlue will add first class to other types of aircraft in their fleet.

At this time, no other details have been announced about the services such as the seat technology, food offerings or other in-flight amenities that will go along with the new seats. Keep in mind, JetBlue doesn’t have any airport lounges, and all of the other carriers flying these routes of the others do, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we see JetBlue start opening some airport lounges in the future in these markets if this plan goes forward.

Last year, JetBlue announced their loyalty program, Mosaic, along with a few limited perks and benefits for frequent flyers, so it will be interesting to see if they will offer any of these premium seats for upgrades for Mosaic members. For comparison, Virgin America also launched a loyalty program last year, and they do not allow their elite members to be able to upgrade to First Class for free, only to premium economy seats, which they call Main Cabin Select.

What are your thoughts on JetBlue’s proposed enhancements? Would you be willing to switch over from the legacy carriers to give them a try?

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  • janakj

    They still don’t have WiFi launched yet, and it’s 2013. I’ll reevaluate JetBlue when WiFi finally becomes an option.

    One interesting thing about JetBlue is that they dominate nonstop transcons from JFK to secondary airports, including Oakland, San Jose, Long Beach, and Burbank (they basically fly one plane out west in the evenings to each, and have a redeye back). If they can get WiFi and premium cabins, this might be something they can leverage as a competitive advantage…

  • janakj

    The other thing worth mentioning: once American launches the A321T and United finishes converting their p.s. flights, American would be the only carrier with three classes to JFK. I suspect JetBlue is eyeing this fact and thinking they might have an opportunity to score a few extra first-class fares.

  • Wandering Aramean

    Premium cabins won’t be in those secondary markets, only on the LAX/SFO flights.

    As for the WiFi, hard to tell what the delays are these days; those planes should’ve been flying for a couple months now.

  • janakj

    JetBlue reports on their WiFi page that “Our next phase is securing FAA certification for the system and installing it on our aircraft. We expect the first aircraft with Wi-Fi to be flying Summer 2013.” Of course, they’ve been shifting that “date” for the last 2 years or so.

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