With the news out yesterday that JetBlue is working to fit some of their A321 planes with private “mini-suites” in business class I’ve started pondering just how that would work in the cabin layout. Given that they’ve historically tried to only add benefits at the top rather than remove from the bottom when they make changes (sometimes more effectively than others) it seems to reason that they’ll try to keep their industry-leading economy class pitch even while adding in the premium offerings. Can it fit??
Given that American Airlines plans to add 5 rows of single-seat F seats in the forward cabin of their A321s it shouldn’t be too hard for JetBlue to offer up a similar number of rows with a rather comfortable product. And, conveniently enough, 5 is the number of rows necessary to get the 12 “regular” business class seats and 4 mini-suites that the FAA filing calls for in that cabin.
For economy the spec’s call for 143 seats. That’s one seat short of 24 full rows of 3-3 seating. In the space to the rear of the 2nd door (2L/R) US Airways currently has 26 rows with 32″ pitch. Remove two rows from that layout and you get a full cabin of 34″ seats without too much trouble.
Of course, this layout also would mean no more Even More Legroom seats. With the addition of the premium cabin offerings that isn’t impossible but I’d be a bit surprised if that were the path chosen. It is a solid incremental revenue offering versus a full premium fare up-charge and the competition on those transcon routes all have something comparable. It is also not clear just how much galley space JetBlue will require given their current catering setup. If you move the lavatory at 3L to the back of the plane there is a bit more room to play with in the cabin. Another option is that they will revert to 32″ pitch for most seats. This matches the default in their E190 cabins and it is still quite reasonable for passengers, though not nearly as generous as the 34″ on the A320s (yes, the 2″ is noticeable). Putting 13 rows in the rear-most cabin lets the forward section of economy become a bit more spacious, up in the 35-36″ range by my math. If they cannot get the EML up to 36″ at a minimum I’d say it isn’t worth doing. But there’s also probably a reason I don’t work for an airline.
Odds are that none of these maps are accurate and that JetBlue will come up with something different for the planes. But I had a bit of fun speculating on the topic. Plus, I wasn’t all that far off when guessing about the UA 787 config a while back.
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I wonder how much of this is being driven by the Luftwaffe’s minority stake. They need to have something that can be called a premium cabin for onward connections and award redemption.
I would bet B6 is going with the Recaro slimline seat like UA (and LH, LX, AS, etc.) are installing on A320s and 737s. JetBlue can offer the standard Y/EML personal space while saving 1-2″ inches of pitch per row.
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