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Skift Take

With JetBlue’s 16th birthday coming up, and competition tight in the U.S. airspace, the timing of this refresh is ideal. The introduction of a new fully-connected in-flight entertainment system is nothing less than what we’ve grown to expect from forward-thinking JetBlue.

— Marisa Garcia

JetBlue has announced that it will update its fleet with new interiors, a new fully-connected in-flight entertainment system, and offer its passengers gate-to-gate FlyFi.

This is the first time in 15 years that the airline’s fleet of 130 Airbus A320 aircraft will undergo a cabin refresh.

“Travel preferences have changed in the last 15 years, and we’re investing in what customers want today. Our new cabin, combined with our award-winning customer service, is a powerful way for us to once again challenge the status quo,” says Jamie Perry vice president brand and product development.

Perry tells us that the timing of this refresh is ideal as the airline will soon celebrate its sixteenth birthday. The upgrade is also timed around the midpoint of the useful service life of the A320 aircraft which is about 25-30 years.

Customer surveys conducted by the airline showed that passenger satisfaction with JetBlue’s cabins on the A321 aircraft were “significantly higher than on the A320” on similar routes. “What we have seen is that the A321 aircraft is about 10% higher [in customer ratings] than the A320,” says Perry.

Fully Connected

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JetBlue’s new seat-back in-flight entertainment.

JetBlue has also focused on keeping passengers fully connected gate-to-gate. With the introduction of its new internet-enabled in-flight entertainment (IFE) system from Thales—STV+—JetBlue will become the first domestic airline offer fully connected seat-back television. The new IFE system will offer 10-inch, 1280p, High-Definition capable touch screens, which is almost double the screen size available on JetBlue A320 aircraft today.

Because the STV+ (Streaming TV Entertainment) system is built on the Google Android platform, passengers will be able to pair their personal electronic devices to their in-seat embedded screen and play personal content.

JetBlue will also expand the number of DIRECTV television channels offered from 36 to more than 100, and will have the capacity to offer over 300 on-demand Hollywood films and other content stored on the aircraft’s local server.

To keep passenger devices powered throughout the flight, all seats will offer AC power outlets with USB ports.

Gate-to-Gate Wi-Fi

JetBlue will switch on its free FlyFi internet access gate-to-gate, giving passengers more time online or connected to The Hub—JetBlue’s content portal offering Amazon Prime entertainment—from the moment they board the aircraft.

“Our customers don’t want to switch off when they take off, so we are continuing to build on our investment in Fly-Fi,” says Perry.

JetBlue and Airbus will retrofit the airline’s A321 aircraft in the second half of 2016, and the A320 restyling will begin in early 2017 with a targeted completion date of 2019.

New Seats and LED Lighting

JetBlue's "fully connected" seat.

JetBlue’s “fully connected” seat.

The airline will add economy seats to the A321 aircraft during the retrofit, bringing the total number of seats to 200, and reduce a row of seats on the A320 from 165 to 162. Perry says the reduction in pitch (distance between seats) for the A321 aircraft is minimal; down from 33″ in the existing A321 main cabin to 32″ in the new main cabin.

The space gained in the aircraft interior are the result of new ergonomic B/E Aerospace Pinnacle seats, and the installation of Airbus’ Space-Flex v2 galley and lavatory models, which will be installed on both the A320 and A321 All-Core aircraft.

The airline will further enhance the feel of the cabin space with the installation of LED lighting and a modern interior color palette.

Fifteen All-Core A321 aircraft will be reconfigured with the new Pinnacle seats to the new 200 passenger configuration. The cabin lay-out of A321 Aircraft that feature the airline’s premium Mint cabins will not change.

Larger seat-back screens on JetBlue's newly reconfigured aircraft.

Larger seat-back screens on JetBlue’s newly reconfigured aircraft.

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