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JetBlue will bring less-premium Airbus A321 to London

Aug. 24, 2022
5 min read
JetBlue will bring less-premium Airbus A321 to London
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Last year, JetBlue Airways crossed the pond for the first time.

The carrier launched its first transatlantic flight in August 2021 from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to London's Heathrow Airport (LHR). JetBlue has since expanded its European operations to a second London airport, Gatwick (LGW), and recently added service from Boston Logan International Airport (BOS), too.

JetBlue's even gearing up to announce a second European destination later this year.

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To date, the airline has exclusively deployed the Airbus A321LR, or "long-range," on its transatlantic routes. In fact, this plane was purposely ordered for the airline's European missions.

But JetBlue will shortly start flying a different variant of the A321 to London, beginning later this year, as first seen in Cirium schedules and later confirmed by the carrier.

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This variant, the Airbus A321neo with new Mint cabin, was actually the first jet to sport the updated Mint business-class product when it started flying in June 2021. This regionally configured jet, internally dubbed the A321LD, has since been deployed on the highly competitive route between JFK and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), and as the airline adds more of these planes to its fleet, it'll be based in Boston as well.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

While the A321LD has been operating domestic flights for the past year, it'll soon make its transatlantic debut on Oct. 29. The airline will fly it from JFK to LGW daily through Dec. 18.

For passengers, the biggest implication of the move is that the A321LR and A321LD feature different onboard configurations. While both jets sport the new Mint business-class product with direct-aisle access for each passenger, the number of seats differs between them, as you can see in the table below.

Seat typeAirbus A321LRAirbus A321LD
Mint Studios22
Mint Suites2214
Even More Space (extra legroom)2442
Core (standard economy)90102
Total138160

The long-range A321 configuration was purposely designed by JetBlue for high-profile transatlantic routes, and the seating mix reflects that. There's a expansive business-class cabin, as well as plenty of extra-legroom seats.

Meanwhile, the A321LD configuration boasts fewer Mint seats, but more Even More Space and core seats.

The A321LR boasts a few more bells and whistles that make it JetBlue's flagship aircraft. These include the new Airbus Airspace cabin, which features large overhead bins and snazzy mood lighting (neither of which you'll find on the A321LD).

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Although the A321LD was originally ordered for domestic missions, the carrier confirmed that the plane's free Wi-Fi service will work on flights across the Atlantic.

However, the A321LD features DirecTV, which likely won't work on these flights. The airline isn't planning to add the five channels of free live TV (CNN International, BBC, CNBC, Sky News and Sport24) that it offers on the A321LR.

There are several other smaller differences between the A321LR and A321LD, which you can read about in our head-to-head comparison.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Adding the A321LD to the mix for European flights gives JetBlue a bit more flexibility for long-haul routes that may not have enough demand for 24 business-class pods. For instance, the airline is currently planning to fly the A321LD to Gatwick, which has historically been the less "premium" London airport.

While switching planes on a domestic flight is typically quite simple, there are some extra hoops that JetBlue needs to go through to get the A321LD flying to London.

The biggest is that flying over the Atlantic requires ETOPS, or extended-range twin-engine operational performance standards, certification from the Federal Aviation Administration. Each jet must comply with enhanced safety and maintenance requirements to be awarded this certification.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

JetBlue told TPG that "we anticipate the aircraft will be ETOPS certified in the weeks ahead."

Of course, JetBlue also needs to consider the range differences between the A321LR and A321LD. The former can fly 4,000 nautical miles, while the latter can only go 3,500 nautical miles.

Flights from New York to London are roughly 3,000 nautical miles, so both jets can theoretically make the seven-hour journey, assuming that headwinds on the westbound route aren't too strong — something that can sometimes be an issue, particularly during winter months.

While the A321LD will start flying to London shortly, that'll likely mark the farthest it can realistically get in Europe for regular scheduled service. Whether the carrier chooses Paris, Amsterdam or Rome as its next European destination, it'll likely need to rely exclusively on the A321LR.

Featured image by (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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