Today, jetBlue has officially shown off its revamped cabin concepts for its Airbus A320 aircraft, which make up the majority of the New York-based carrier's fleet. The very first aircraft to feature the new A321-inspired cabin also re-entered scheduled revenue service today, with a flight from Boston to Bermuda as jetBlue flight 203.
The aircraft, N646JB, will now join an upcoming subfleet of approximately 12 Airbus A320 aircraft that will be retrofitted with the "Phase 1" cabin, based on the carrier's current A321 interiors. From that point on, the carrier will begin transitioning to the "Phase 2" cabin, which offers an entirely new product for the 162 seats (compared to the original 150 prior to the retrofit) onboard the aircraft. All of jetBlue's 130 Airbus A320s are expected to feature either the Phase 1 or Phase 2 cabins by the end of 2021.
jetBlue is a relatively new airline to the U.S. domestic market, having just launched operations back in 2000. All current A320s, except for N646JB, feature the same old cabin that first debuted with jetBlue's launch. These extra-comfy seats featured passenger amenities unbeknownst to passengers almost two decades ago: live satellite TV (albeit on small and dated 4:3 aspect ratio screens), seats with extra padding, and a super-generous 34 inches of seat pitch. David Neeleman, jetBlue's founder, originally called this service concept as a way to "bring humanity back to air travel."
jetBlue received its first Airbus A321 in 2013, which debuted the highly popular "Mint" business class, as well as a new economy cabin. This economy cabin, available on the "Mint" A321 as well as the "Core" all-economy A321, is identical to the A320 Phase 1 retrofit. It consists of all-new B/E Aerospace Pinnacle seats with between 32 inches (A320) and 33 inches (A321) of seat pitch, the most offered in economy at any U.S. airline.
As always, jetBlue remains committed to connectivity when it comes to the passenger experience. For both the Phase 1 and 2 retrofits, passengers can expect amenities that will be only found on "premium" carriers. Each seat will feature an in-flight entertainment screen mounted on the back of the seat in front, complete with Live TV and on-demand content, individual power ports and USB ports for each seat, as well as free Fly-Fi, the airline's moniker for its Exede-powered WiFi network.
jetBlue A320 Phase 1 seat features. Infographic courtesy of jetBlue.
Phase 1 Retrofit
jetBlue's Phase 1 retrofit concept should be familiar to those who have flown in its Airbus A321s, which I reviewed back in the summer of 2017.
The main feature of this cabin is the deep blue mood lighting, as well as the B/E Aerospace Pinnacle seats, which are identical to the ones onboard the Airbus A321. Additionally, larger overhead bins, Passenger Service Units (PSUs), as well as new sidewalls, were installed, as early A320 deliveries featured an older Airbus interior. On the back of each seat, there will be a 10-inch entertainment screen, featuring over 100 channels of Live TV, as well as lots of on-demand content, including movies. Furthermore, these seats will also feature an individual USB port and power plug for each passenger.
The Phase 1 cabin retrofit, identical to jetBlue's A321 economy cabin. Image courtesy of jetBlue.
Phase 2 Retrofit
The Phase 2 Retrofit will bring about an entirely new economy product and passenger experience to the carrier's Airbus A320s. These retrofits are scheduled to begin in 2019, and will feature the B/E Aerospace Meridian seat - the same seat used on American Airlines' and United Airlines' Boeing 737 MAX. Obviously, jetBlue will not put a mere 30 inches of pitch at each seat. Moreover, they have also customized their seats with lots of perks in order to provide a much more interactive and connected passenger experience.
Seat pitch on this configuration will remain the same, with 32 inches of pitch at economy seats, and at least 35 inches of pitch at "Even More Space" seats. In addition, at 18.4 inches, these will be some of the widest economy seats flying today. For the Phase 2 retrofits, jetBlue will be switching to an entirely new entertainment concept from Thales. This system, called "AVANT", will introduce a completely new perspective in terms of passenger connectivity. For the first time on jetBlue, passengers will be able to use their personal smartphones to interact with the entertainment system, a system that is available on their A321s but has not yet been implemented. Additionally, Fly-Fi's provider will be switched over to ViaSat, with their ViaSat-2 satellite WiFi product.
Image courtesy of jetBlue.
Regarding the new entertainment system, jetBlue will offer the same 100 channels of Live TV and movies as usual. However, they will also be introducing new on-demand content, including games, audiobooks, and podcasts. In addition, as previously mentioned, passengers can use their mobile phones to control the system.
As for in-seat power, there are two convenient options available to passengers - a USB plug next to the entertainment screen, as well as an AC power outlet directly below the seat in front of them. Even the seat pocket seems designed with passenger comfort in mind - it features multiple pockets, designed to store objects of different sizes.
Image courtesy of jetBlue.
Are you excited to be flying on jetBlue's revamped A320s soon?