JetBlue to reconfigure fleet with seats from B/E Aerospace

Washington DC
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JetBlue Airways will install economy-class seats manufactured by B/E Aerospace on its current fleet and on aircraft on order, a project that will result in one less inch of legroom between some seats on the carrier's soon-to-be-delivered Airbus A321s.

Four 190-seat A321s scheduled for delivery later this year will be the first aircraft to have the new seats.

On those aircraft, JetBlue's base economy seats will have 33in (84cm) of pitch, one inch less than on the airline's current A320s.

But JetBlue notes that its "Even More Space" economy seats on the A321s will have between 37in and 41in of pitch, up to two inches more than on its A320s.

JetBlue has said the initial A321s will enter revenue service in December and will likely operate high-density routes to Florida and the Caribbean.

Beginning next year, JetBlue will begin taking delivery of 11 A321s with a two-cabin layout, including a main cabin with 143 seats and a premium cabin with 16 lie-flat seats, including four lie-flat seats enclosed in mini suites.

The lie-flat seats will be manufactured by Thompson Aero Seating, based in Northern Ireland.

Those aircraft will operate between John F. Kennedy International airport and Los Angeles and San Francisco, routes on which JetBlue hopes to attract more revenue from higher-yielding business travellers.

JetBlue says the position of the exit doors on the A321s and other layout factors led to the decision to reduce legroom between some seats to 33in.

The existing fleet of roughly 130 Airbus A320s and 60 Embraer E-190s will also get new seats, but JetBlue says the number of seats on those aircraft will not increase.

The airline does not say when that project will begin, but expects to release more details in the fall.

Seats on JetBlue's current A320s have a pitch between 34in and 39in, and seats on its E-190s have pitch between 32in and 39in, the airline says.

The new seats are part of what JetBlue calls an effort to "refresh" the flying experience.

The new seats will save 1,010 pounds of weight (458kg) on the A320s and will have a mesh seat-back pocket, a cup holder and a newly-designed seat-back tray, the airline says.

In addition, JetBlue will replace its 6in seatback televisions screens with 10.1in screens on its aircraft, and will add power ports to each seat.

JetBlue also intends to roll out wireless internet access later this year.

"The total refresh has nothing to do with pitch. It has everything to do with comfort and choice," JetBlue tells Flightglobal.