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JetBlue Cut Coach Legroom to Make Space for Its New First Class

Skift Take

The decision to sacrifice coach space in favor of a super-deluxe first class is in keeping with the trend of an increasing divide between elite travelers and the huddled masses, with an ever-shrinking middle ground.

— Eliza Ronalds-Hannon

JetBlue Airways will cut one inch of legroom from its coach seats on transcontinental flights to make room for a new first-class cabin that will feature lie-flat beds.

The New York-based airline unveiled plans Monday for its first premium service on flights between New York and Los Angeles and San Francisco. It’s part of a larger effort by the carrier to attract business travelers, who pay more for last-minute flights.

The new seats will debut on Airbus A321 planes in the second quarter of 2014. The planes will have 16 seats in the front cabin and 143 in the back. JetBlue planes currently have 34 inches from one row of coach seats to the next. That will shrink to 33 inches in the new configuration, according to spokeswoman Tamara Young.

New slimmer seats, similar to what other airlines are installing, will help with the adjustment.

“With our new slimmer seats, we actually maintain the same amount of industry-leading living space,” Young said in an email.

JetBlue markets itself as having the most legroom in coach of any U.S. airline and for not charging a fee for the first checked bag. It will still have more legroom than the competitors, but the difference won’t be as dramatic.

American Airlines and Delta Air Lines offer 31 to 32 inches on most planes. United Airlines provides 31 inches. Southwest Airlines has 31 to 33 inches, depending on the aircraft.

Copyright (2013) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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