- JetBlue Airways just began flying between New York and London with one of Airbus’ newest jets.
- The Airbus A321neoLR is the next-generation variant of the popular A321 and is capable of flying transatlantic flights.
- JetBlue has packed the aircraft full of customer-friendly features that take away from the fact that the aircraft is smaller than what competitors use.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
JetBlue Airways began flying between New York and London in August, bringing its low fares to Europe for the first time.
Introductory fares on the route started at $US599 ($AU825) round-trip for economy class and $US1,979 ($AU2,725) for Mint business class.
One way the airline is keeping prices low is by flying smaller aircraft across the pond.
JetBlue chose the Airbus A321neoLR for its European flights and is currently the only airline to fly a single-aisle aircraft between New York and London.
The trend is becoming more common as airlines try to lower costs on lucrative transatlantic flights, and manufacturers like Airbus are accommodating by making the planes fly further than ever before.
Some frequent flyers, including myself, dread the idea of having to fly on a single-aisle plane across an ocean. But after two flights on the aircraft, I was more than happy with the experience and enjoyed flying on it more than some larger aircraft.
Here’s why I’d book another flight on a JetBlue Airbus A321neoLR when flying transatlantic.
Insider paid a media rate to fly from New York to London and back
As a New Yorker, I’ve taken countless JetBlue flights in my flying career and have seen how quickly the airline has improved its onboard product in recent years. Those improvements culminated in the Airbus A321neoLR, flying exclusively between New York and London.
JetBlue’s latest seat products and satellite WiFi can be found on the aircraft, as well as other features like the JetBlue “pantry.”
I specifically book a standard economy seat for the overnight flight to London in seat 24A.
I sat down in the seat and felt surprisingly at ease. It felt like just another flight on JetBlue, an airline on which I’d become incredibly comfortable flying.
JetBlue offers 32 inches (81cm) of legroom in these seats as well as 18.4 inches (46cm) of width.
For a larger traveler like myself, the extra room made a world of difference. I didn’t feel hemmed in or struggling to find a comfortable position.
Those dimensions make JetBlue’s seats more spacious than all of its competitors on the route, despite the smaller plane.
American Airlines offers between 31 and 32 inches (81cm) of seat pitch for its economy seats on the Boeing 777-300ER, according to SeatGuru, while seat widths range between 16.2 and 17.1 inches (43cm).
British Airways’ Boeing 777-200 aircraft offers 31 inches (79cm) of pitch and 17.5 inches (46cm) of seat width in economy, according to SeatGuru.
Delta Air Lines’ Boeing 767-400ER aircraft offer 31 inches (79cm) of pitch and a nearly comparable 18.1 inches (46cm) of width, according to SeatGuru.
Virgin Atlantic Airways offers between 31 and 34 inches (86cm) of pitch on its Airbus A350-1000 XWB aircraft in economy, according to SeatGuru, with a seat width of 17.4 inches (43cm).
United Airlines offers the closest rival on its premium-configured Boeing 767-300ER with seat pitches varying between 31 and 34 inches (86cm) for economy seats and 18.5 inches (48cm) of pitch, according to SeatGuru. The 34-inch (86cm) pitch seats are paid, extra-legroom “Economy Plus” seats.
JetBlue’s spacious seats are accompanied by a low-density configuration of only 138 seats across 31 rows. In economy, you can see from the first row all the way to the last with no dividers in between.
American, by comparison, has 216 economy seats alone on its Boeing 777-300ER flying between New York and London.
The only other airline flying planes with fewer passengers between New York and Europe is French boutique airline La Compagnie.
Having fewer seats means it takes less time to board and deplane the aircraft. It might even take less time to board and deplane than JetBlue’s other aircraft that have more seats.
Personally, having fewer people onboard made it feel like there was a lot less hassle during boarding and deplaning. Flying to London felt no different than if I was flying down to Florida, and it made the overall experience a lot less stressful.
Beyond its impressive spaciousness, the economy seat itself had all the usual trimmings for a transatlantic product a 10.1-inch (25cm) in-flight entertainment screen with a USB charging port, 110v AC power outlet, and adjustable headrest.
Also on display during boarding was the Airbus Airspace cabin found on its newest jets. Mood lighting welcomes passengers onboard with LED lights above giving the impression of a starry night.
Economy seats are configured in a standard 3-3 configuration with an equal number of aisle, window, and middle seats.
It didn’t take long to get everybody onboard and ready for the seven-hour crossing. We would’ve departed right on time had it not been for bad weather in the area that prevented us from pushing back from the gate.
But once we got underway, it was smooth sailing to London. The A321neoLR handled what little turbulence we experienced quite well.
Flight attendants walked up and down the aisle to perform the in-flight service, just like a normal flight. It took a bit longer than it should have but that was chalked up to it being the very first flight.
One cool feature of JetBlue’s transatlantic product is that customers can order their meals from the in-flight entertainment system.
I quickly fell asleep and woke up over Ireland in time for breakfast with only around an hour left in the flight.
The fuel-efficient Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbofan engines also make the cabin incredibly quiet and conducive to uninterrupted sleep.
The flight ended, as all do, and I was thinking more about how happy I was in London than the fact that I flew across the Atlantic in a single-aisle plane.
I flew back to New York just a few days later on the very same aircraft. The only difference was that this time, I was in business class.
JetBlue rolled out a brand-new Mint business class seat for this aircraft to give flyers maximum privacy and exclusivity.
Business class seats are arranged in a 1-1 configuration across 12 rows, taking up nearly half of the aircraft.
Each seat offers direct aisle access and has closing doors for additional privacy.
There were even fewer passengers on this flight so boarding took less than 30 minutes and we were quickly on our way to New York.
The flight time was also around seven hours for this leg thanks to favorable winds. What the A321neoLR lacks in speed, however, JetBlue makes up for in the in-flight service.
A three-course meal was served for lunch, accompanied by multiple pre-landing snacks.
And for those still hungry, the JetBlue “pantry” is available on the aircraft where passengers can take whatever snacks and beverages they like.
Besides the extra flight duration, I could hardly tell the difference or care that I was on a smaller plane.