BusinessWire

Yes, you’re going to lose a little seat pitch. But you’ll gain plenty of other features. Eventually.

January 26, 2016

Reports are flying today about JetBlue's ambitious new cabin upgrades, which the brand just announced after 15 years of flying on a same-old, same-old fleet. Here's what you need to know—and the key details about when the changes will be deployed. (Hint: it's not any time in the immediate future.)

Better Connectivity

Gate-to-gate Wi-Fi means that you'll be able to sign onto JetBlue's FlyFi system the minute you settle into your seat—and you won't be disconnected just because you're descending, either. It'll especially be a blessing for travelers on JetBlue's shorter, domestic routes, which have limited time at altitude. As for the speed, the airline is promising a high quality experience with 12 to 20 Mbps per connected device, which is fast enough for Web browsing, gaming, social media uploads, and video streaming, sometimes simultaneously—in other words, the whole nine yards.

Better Seatback Entertainment Options

A new streaming system means that you'll be able to launch content from a full 100 DirecTV channels—along with on-demand Hollywood releases—from 10-inch, high-definition, Android-powered touchscreens in the seatbacks. (Currently the only other carrier providing this much entertainment in the skies is Virgin America.) Bonus: you can also log in to your Amazon Video and stream your own content without draining your iPad.

More Seats

As part of the retrofit, JetBlue will be adding more seats to the cabins. Now, the A320 will have 162 seats—up a dozen from the previous generation—which means that the carrier is cramming in an extra two rows. The larger A321s in the fleet—there are fewer than 30 of them all together—will seat 200. It should come as no surprise that the Mint class, JetBlue's premium service, will not be affected.

More Comfort?

Bring on the skeptics, but JetBlue claims that they will offer the most legroom in coach based on average fleet-wide seat pitch among U.S. airlines, even after cramming in an extra two rows. That may be true, but those who are used to the company's roomy seats are still going to lose an inch in seat pitch, which will decline from 34 to 33 inches. To compromise, JetBlue is using ergonomic materials and suspension systems to offer good lumbar support in their new seats; they're also making moveable, wrap-around headrests a standard feature.

But Not For A While

The 28 A321s in JetBlue's fleet will be the first ones to get a makeover—and that won't happen until "later in 2016." As for the rest of the planes? The remaining 200 (roughly) won't be restyled until at least early 2017, with completion targeted for—wait for it—2019. The bottom line? You have up to three years before you're likely to notice that lost inch of seat pitch.

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