It's not a private jet, but it might be the closest commercial flights have ever come. JetBlue Airways announced today that it is adding lie-flat seats to its Airbus A321 transcontinental flights.
Starting in Q2 2014, passengers flying on what JetBlue calls "the two most popular nonstop routes in the United States" -- the New York to Los Angeles and New York to San Francisco flights -- can go fully horizontal in a "suite seat" with a closable door for increased privacy. The new seats offer air cushions with adjustable firmness, a massage function and a 15-inch widescreen television.
Although JetBlue is renowned for its budget prices and high-quality service, CEO Dave Barger sees his latest expansion as a logical next step:
Our customers have requested more premium options on our transcontinental flights and we listened. 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.
The transcontinental routes are the most profitable and highly contested domestic markets for airlines. Business class tickets frequently sell for $4,000 roundtrip. American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines are all in the process of putting lie-flat beds in their premium cabins on those routes. JetBlue says industry data show there are more than 6,000 passengers each day on the New York-Los Angeles and New York-San Francisco routes combined.
A computer-generated video of JetBlue's latest offering can be found here, but new services expand beyond those that can be seen. The airline is ramping up its technology offerings with new broadband speed Wi-Fi options, as well as up to 11 channels of DirectTV programming.
-- Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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