Yesterday, JetBlue Airways Corp. announced plans to expand their discount carrier service to include new premium seats on their planes. While the official details were only just released, we've already seen some snippets of the customer reaction to come.
The new seats will be located in the front of the plane and will be convertible into lie-flat beds, similar to those seen in global business classes on airlines such as Virgin Atlantic, British Airways and Qatar Airways. Domestic competitors like American Airlines, Delta and United already offer flat-bed seats for their business class customers.
But JetBlue won't just stop at lie-flat beds for their customers; instead, JetBlue will be the first and only airline in the market to offer customers the option of a completely separate single suite seat that includes a closable door for increased privacy. You read that right – JetBlue will debut its new Airbus A321 aircraft featuring four suite-style seats with sliding doors.
Not enough for you? Passengers who commit to JetBlue's premium seats will receive hot meals and free alcoholic drinks throughout their flight.
JetBlue has long since been the go-to airline for the low-cost crowd that isn't quite willing to stoop to Spirit Airlines standards. Launched in 2000, JetBlue is a self-proclaimed “egalitarian” airline and cites customer service as its most important tenetâ€¦ and actually acts like it!
This is an interesting move for an airline that rarely attracts the corporate crowd. Marty St. George, Senior Vice President for Marketing at JetBlue told the Daily News: “We’re not looking to carry the corporate accounts. That’s really not our target customer. Our goal is to revolutionize the premium market like we revolutionized the economy market 13 years ago.”
JetBlue will premier its new fleet of fancy Airbus A321s sometime during the second quarter of 2014. The first stop? Capitalizing on the transcontinental NYC to LAX and SFO.
In a press release, JetBlue CEO Dave Barger said “Our customers have requested more premium options on our transcontinental flights and we listened. We decided to enter the premium transcontinental market in a way that only JetBlue can: with an intense focus on offering the best possible product for the best possible price.”
JetBlue is known for having the most legroom, low fares and free in-flight entertainment and it has exploited and expanded accordingly. How do you feel about this expansion into a new realm of luxury? Will JetBlue fly into the rainbow of success or will they (figuratively) crash and burn? While Mr. Barger claims the pricing will remain competitive, I'll be interested to see how the fares compete with domestic competitors offering a similar service. Ironically, Sir Richard Branson just recently cut Upper Class flat beds after losing a patent battle with his former partner.
I won't lie thoughâ€¦ I wouldn't mind a private cabin on my flight to San Fran.