JetBlue may be giving up one of its biggest advantages

JetBlueThe new JetBlue Airbus A320 interior.
  • JetBlue unveiled its brand new Airbus A320 interior on Wednesday.
  • The new JetBlue interior will feature wider seats, larger entertainment screens, and revamped mood lighting.
  • Economy class seat pitch falls from 34 inches to 32 inches.

JetBlue’s fleet of Airbus A320 jets is getting a brand new interior. On Wednesday, the New York-based boutique carrier unveiled the all-new cabin design for its workhorse Airbus jet in nearly 20 years.

“JetBlue’s A320 restyling is about making the best even better,” JetBlue executive vice president of commercial and planning, Marty St. George said in a statement. “JetBlue has built its innovative reputation on offering our customers the very best products and a level of service they won’t find on another U.S. airline and this update ensures we remain the go-to choice for flyers who expect nothing but the best.”

The restyling will be done in two phases. From now until the end of 2018, planes updated during phase one will feature Rockwell Collins Pinnacle seats and a LiveTV 4 in-flight entertainment system which are already on the airline’s larger Airbus A321s.

Phase two will start in 2019. Planes updated during this period will get ultra-slim Rockwell Collins Meridian seats, Thales Avant in-flight entertainment systems, and ViaSat 2 broadband internet connectivity.

JetBlue and its fleet of Airbus A320s were a major disruptive force when they arrived on the scene in 2000. The leather seats, abundant snacks, and free satellite TV in coach were a breath of fresh air. And the new interior promises to deliver even more.

But for travellers, the new Airbus interior is going to be both a blessing and a curse.

With the sleek new seats and bigger TV screens will also come a few sacrifices. For many, that will mean the loss of two inches in seat pitch. Seat pitch is the amount of room between two rows of seats. While that may not sound like much in the grand scheme of things, it’s a big deal for airline passengers.

In its current layout, the airline’s Airbus A320 fleet has 34 inches in economy or Core seats in JetBlue parlance. This makes the JetBlue A320 the roomiest economy class seat anywhere in the US. After the redesign, that figure drops to 32 inches. This allows JetBlue fit about a dozen more seats in the plane.

“After the restyling, we will continue to have the most legroom in coach (based on average seat pitch among U.S. airline), with 32 inches for Core seats and 35 inches for Even More Space seats in both phases,” a JetBlue spokesman told Business Insider.

According to JetBlue, the ultra-thin design of the Phase two will actually deliver an extra inch of legroom in spite of the loss of seat pitch.

Thus, JetBlue will still be an industry leader in this category even after the update. However, bountiful seat pitch will no longer be the selling point that it once was.

Currently, American, Delta, United, and Alaska Airlines all hover around 31-32 inches of pitch. While Southwest varies from 31-33 inches. After the cabin updates, JetBlue Embraer E190, Airbus A320, and most of its A321 fleet will have 32 inches of pitch. The airline’s fleet of A321s used for longer trans-continental routes have 33 inches in economy.

Here’s a closer look at JetBlue’s new Airbus A320 cabin:


Here it is! The JetBlue Airbus A320.

JetBlue

In 2018, planes updated during Phase one will get LED mood lighting and new overhead bins.

JetBlue

The Phase update also features a 10.1-inch HD touchscreen, 100 channels of live TV, and a large selection of on-demand programming.

JetBlue

The seats updated during 2018 get adjustable headrests, a dedicated water bottle holder, and in-seat power supply.

JetBlue

Starting in 2019, Phase two will see the addition of next-generation seats that deliver an extra inch legroom. According to JetBlue, they are the widest economy seats in the industry at 18.4 inches.

JetBlue

The Phase two seats will also water bottle holders and mesh storage units in addition to the traditional seatback pocket. The power plugs have also been moved to face the passenger.

JetBlue

Phase two planes also get a suite of new tech goodies. This includes a 10.1-inch HD touchscreen with picture-in-picture capability running an Android-based operating system. The system offers expanded TV, movie, and audio options as well as destination-specific content. Passengers will also be able to use their smart devices as a remote control.

JetBlue

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