JetBlue to Charge for More Legroom

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.
08_03_20 b6320seathistory
Better?

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


7 Responses to JetBlue to Charge for More Legroom

  1. seth says:

    Word out from a JetBlue FA is that the reconfig was completed even before the announcement was made, though I’m not sure how reliable that is.

    I understand their efforts to drive extra revenue from the seats with extra legroom, but with 34″ standard on the A320s, I really cannot figure out if the 38″ is actually a compelling purchase. I don’t think it would be for me, but apparently a bunch of people are paying for it so it is good for the carrier. I wonder if an annual pass (like UA has for E+ access) is coming. Or an elite status (TrueBluest??) that gets access for free.

  2. I’d pay for it on a red-eye east.

    JetBlue has always had an egalitarian feel to it, so it is interesting to watch them stray a little bit from it. I remember the first time flying them that it took a bit of getting used to that there was no partition at the front of the coach cabin.

    What I’m wondering if they’re going to find some way to enhance the inflight entertainment. It was an area where they were once dominate, but they’re beginning to lag just a bit. Its a big capital cost, but one that they probably need to be considering.

  3. Heather says:

    Seems to me that JetBlue is making a bunch of extra dough with this added feature. The rumor I heard back when they first reduced the number of seats in their cabins, was that they did it to save on employee salaries by reducing the number of f/a’s onboard (FAA mandates one f/a per 50 pax). So now they don’t have to pay an extra crew member AND they’re charging more for desirable seats. It’ll be interesting to see customer reactions.

  4. Russ says:

    I’d gladly pay. We need to show the airlines that there is a market for a better product. If the only thing that airline customers care about is the lowest price then we are doomed to smaller seats and poorer service. Sadly, there is a proven market for sardine class.

    I wish United would charge for Economy Plus seats, so the bean counters won’t take them away.

    Imagine a universe where a 737 has 5 seats across instead of 6.

  5. Dave says:

    I don’t like it. Jet Blue is the better product the way it is now. It is really nice to get on a flight where everyone is treated the same, and gets the same good service. It really is ideal: comfortable, economical, practical. But it isn’t the worst thing in the world, since okay, you can pay for more legroom if you want, it isn’t like they are going to put curtains up and start rolling stupid carts down the aisle for the “even more legroom” crowd. And if people are willing to pay it, that keeps fares down for people like me who think that there is plenty of legroom in a normal Jet Blue seat. As long as they don’t go too far, like “classes of service” (like “even more legroom” boards first or whatever which would make no sense as they are in the front of the plane), in which case the chumps who like Econ+ (which is really a customer loyalty program for people who like to burn money) will be happy; the younger professional who is the core customer of Jet Blue won’t.

  6. Brian says:

    Is there a time before a flight when you can change your regular seat for an even more legroom seat without a fee? Some airlines will do that for you at checking or at the gate. My issue with the flight I booked with jet blue now is that I am in a middle seat because there are no more window/aisle seats on the 320, but mutiple rows empty on the even more space seats. I don’t care about the legroom really, just want a non middle seat for my mid haul flight.

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