It is hard to beat they hype surrounding JetBlue’s new seats for premium transcon products announced today, mostly because it is such a change for that carrier and their product marketing. Still, in what is quickly becoming known as the “Transcon Wars,” Delta was overdue a move. They announced more details today regarding their plans in the space. Not surprisingly, the new product will also feature lie-flat beds on their 757-200 aircraft flying from JFK to San Francisco and Los Angeles. The roll-out of the new seats will start in Spring 2014 according to the announcement.
For those who have been watching the travel space at all recently these seats should look a bit familiar. They are roughly the same seats Continental introduced on their 757-200s some years ago and are now being installed on the United Airlines p.s. fleet. American Airlines is also going to be using these seats on their new A321T transcon offering in business class. Both United and American will have more of the business class seats on board (28 and 20, respectively) than Delta’s 16. JetBlue has 16 in their new layout and Virgin America remains at the back of the pack with 8.
The new seat specs are, per the Delta release:
- Seat width is 20.2” which can be increased to 22.2” with the armrest stowed
- 180º fully flat bed (average bed length of 76”)
- 110v AC in-seat power + USB power
- 16″ screens for entertainment
In addition to the improvements in the business class cabin the coach cabin on the transcon 75E planes will see an upgrade. It includes:
- 44 seats in Economy Comfort with 35″ pitch
- 108 seats in Economy with 31″ pitch
- “Slim-line” seat provides more personal space
- 110v AC in-seat power + USB power
- 9″ screens for entertainment
United Airlines will have more economy seats (48) with additional legroom than Delta; American (36) and JetBlue (41) have fewer.
Delta’s move was not unexpected; they’ve been talking about upgrading to flat beds on the routes for some time (at least as far back as November 2012) but this is the first I can recall seeing a specific product mentioned for the seats. And, for better or worse, the choice seems to be just about average. The business seats are tied with American and United in the middle while JetBlue is in the lead and Virgin American trails. The economy seats are OK but the slim-line offerings typically catch a lot of flak from passengers based on comfort concerns. Plus the Economy Comfort seating is at the back of the pack with 35″ pitch compared to 37″ on JetBlue, 36″ on United and 35-37″ on American.
Yes, this is an improvement. But it only gets Delta to the middle of the pack in terms of the on-board experience and is dramatically overshadowed by the announcement JetBlue made today.
- JetBlue’s Suite Seats, and how they compete in the transcon premium market
- Targeted transcon bonus miles from Delta
- Delta ups their game on transcon service from JFK
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Need an editor? First paragraph — “It is hard to beat they hype…”
To be fair, the only advantage JetBlue has are the 4 single seats with direct aisle access. The remaining seats are still 2-2, and having just flown Austrian Airlines with the same seats, those cushions need some work.
There are plenty of people who complain that the UA seats aren’t great if you’re tall. Having 6″ extra length on the JetBlue version probably won’t hurt them in that case.
Certainly not a slam dunk, but longer is almost certainly better in this situation.
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