JetBlue to add 'lie-flat' premium seats

Aug. 5, 2013 at 2:59 PM
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SAN DIEGO, Aug. 5 (UPI) -- JetBlue, the New York airline that markets itself as a low-cost carrier, said Monday it will add "lie-flat" premium seats on some transcontinental flights.

Four of the 16 premium, front-of-the-cabin seats will be walled off from the aisle in "suites," the airline said at a business-travel trade show in San Diego.

Passengers paying for the upper-class seating -- limited initially to flights between New York to Los Angeles and New York to San Francisco, the most popular and lucrative non-stop U.S. routes -- will receive hot meals and free alcoholic drinks, spokesman Ander Landstrom told United Press International.

Additional upgraded services to go with the bed-like seats will be announced in September, Landstrom said. So will the name of the service class, he said.

The premium seats and services will start next spring on some of 30 new Airbus A321 planes entering the airline's fleet this fall. The narrow-body A321 jets will include 143 traditional coach seats, Landstrom said.

A321s not configured for the transcontinental service will have 190 seats.

JetBlue Airways Corp., founded in 1999, will also say in September what the new premiums fares will be, Landstrom told UPI.

But President and Chief Executive Officer David Barger indicated in a statement Monday they would be less than the traditional first- and business-class round-trip ticket prices between New York and the two California cities, which can be $4,000 or more.

"Transcontinental routes have had high premium fares we believe we can beat," Barger said.

Flying on JetBlue from New York's Kennedy International Airport to Los Angeles International Airport round trip in early September could cost as little as $324 and as much as $1,482, a United Press International check Monday indicated.

Industry revenues between Kennedy and Los Angeles and San Francisco are more than 50 percent higher than any on other U.S. route, because airlines dedicate more premium seats and charge "much higher fares on these routes on a per-mile basis," JetBlue said in a statement.

More than 6,000 passengers fly the two routes each day, data from aviation research firm Diio LLC indicate.

If premium seats succeed with passengers between these three cities, JetBlue could expand the strategy to other routes, the airline said.

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