You could have seen this one coming from miles away. As of April 1, JetBlue will begin charging if you want to sit in those seats with extra legroom up front. My reaction? I can’t believe it’s taken them this long.
Usually, airlines try to carve out reasons to charge more for a variety of things, but rarely is there a true benefit to the traveler. In this case, you get more legroom so you should absolutely should pay more. They say that the price will start at $10 for a short haul. A quick check of Long Beach – JFK shows that they’ll charge $20 for that route, so you can expect the price to fall within that range.
There’s actually a lot more that’s going into this plan than just slapping a price tag on some seats. They’re actually going to reconfigure the aircraft. Now, only rows 2 through 5, 10, and 11 will have extra legroom. Everything else will be standardized at 34″. Oh, and this only includes the A320. The Embraers will not see any change, and only the single exit row will have more legroom for more money.
So why are they doing this change on the A320? They must not think there are enough people to pay for all those seats with 36″ in front of the wing. So, rows 1 and 6 through 9 will go down from 36″ to 34″ allowing rows 2 through 5 to move up to 38″. Rows 10 and 11 always were at 38″ since they’re exit rows. Make sense? Yeah, I thought not. Take a look at this chart I put together showing the history of JetBlue’s A320 configurations.
Now there are 36 seats on the A320 and 4 on the Embraer 190 that offer 4 extra inches of legroom for $10 to $20 per flight. Remember, even regular coach seats on JetBlue have 2 to 3″ more legroom than most other airlines do in coach. So, is it worth it? I think I’d probably pay it for the long haul trip but not on a short haul. What does everyone think?
By the way, it only takes 14 man hours to reconfigure the airplane, so these will all be completed in the next couple of days. If you fly between now and the end of the month, consider it a bonus that you get great legroom for no extra money.
Edited @ 944a on 3/20: Picture updated with correct seat count along with further description