JetBlue is revamping premium service on its cross-country flights with lie-flat seats to attract more business travelers and, it hopes, to get its revenue stream going in the right direction.
JetBlue is hoping that letting cross-country passengers lie down will raise its profile among U.S. airlines.
The carrier announced on August 5 that it will upgrade its business-class amenities by offering lie-flat seats on some of its cross-country flights beginning in mid-2014. The new seats will offer air cushions with adjustable firmness, a massage function, a 15-inch widescreen television, and a “wake-me-for-service” indicator if the customer chooses to sleep in.
“Our customers have requested more premium options on our transcontinental flights and we listened,” said JetBlue CEO Dave Barger in statement. “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.”
Business class is where competition really is serious.
The service will be available on new Airbus A321 aircraft on two JetBlue routes: flights between New York City and Los Angeles or San Francisco. Although no fare prices were announced, refundable round-trip fares on those routes currently start in the $1,300 to $1,500 range.
The move is further evidence of airlines racing to build a better business class in order to reap more profits from business travelers.
“Business class is where competition really is serious,” said Björn Bosler, Lufthansa’s manager for passenger experience design, business, and premium, in The New York Times. Bob Lange, senior vice president, head of market and product strategy at Airbus, told the newspaper that there is “an arms race going on among carriers.” Lufthansa offers the lie-in seats on its Frankfurt, Germany, to New York City route for a hefty price of $5,000 round trip.
JetBlue is also trying to solve its revenue problems and catch up to the other airlines. “Is it the only thing JetBlue needs to do? No,” Barclays analyst David Fintzen told Bloomberg BusinessWeek. “It speaks to what is JetBlue’s major problem. Their costs are not where we would like to see them, but the bigger problem at JetBlue is a revenue problem.”
The airline’s CEO thinks that the new seats will go a long way to alleviating some of JetBlue’s revenue woes.
“We expect to invigorate the market with our competitive price,” Barger said in a statement. “Building on our original strategy of serving the underserved with a unique product and service-focused culture, we believe this new product will be very popular with current coast-to-coast customers and may motivate new customers to choose JetBlue.”