Thanks to JetBlue, flat-bed seats on transcontinental flights are spreading from the New York market to Boston. And that is music to the ears of West Coasters who have to endure those six-hour hauls. Boston is so. far. away! And so is California…
When JetBlue introduced its Mint front-cabin service, which offers lie-flat seats and other perks to premium passengers, it was initially limited to the highly competitive New York-Los Angeles and New York-San Francisco markets dominated by United, Delta and American.
What started out as an experiment by JetBlue – offering biz-class service with a lie-flat seat comparable to its competitors but at lower fares – became a huge success for the carrier’s bottom line. So it started fitting out more aircraft with flat-seat Mint cabins and expanding the service to more transcontinental markets – starting with its three daily San Francisco-Boston flights.
Last September, Delta announced plans to re-enter the San Francisco-Boston market on June 8 with two daily roundtrips, using 757-200s. Delta has four models of 757-200s, one of which offers lie-flat seats in its first class cabin. And those are the 757s Delta will use on the BOS-SFO route.
And something else is happening June 8: United reportedly plans to change the aircraft mix on its San Francisco-Boston flights from the current 757-300s, 777-200s and 737-900s to just two types: 777-200s and 757-200s, all with lie-flat seating in the front cabin.
JetBlue, meanwhile, plans to boost frequencies in the BOS-SFO market by adding a fourth daily Mint roundtrip in July. Game on.
Looking ahead to June when the competition heats up, business class fares on jets with lie-flat seats in the Boston-San Francisco and Los Angeles market are currently running at about $1,200 roundtrip. Flights with standard recliner seats are as low as $892 roundtrip.
Meanwhile, JetBlue has also put Mint-equipped A321s onto its Boston-Los Angeles flights as of last fall. So far, we haven’t see any front cabin flat-bed response from its competitors on that route. United, Delta and American all use 737-800s on their BOS-LAX flights. (However, Delta plans to use flat-seat 757-200s on its new transcon route from Washington Reagan National to LAX that starts next month.)
(Note: Virgin America is in all these transcon markets, but it doesn’t offer true flat-bed seats in the front cabins of its Airbus jets.)
If JetBlue’s competitors decide to offer a comparable premium product on BOS-LAX, this flat-seat fight could spread to even more markets.
JetBlue’s longer-term plan for Mint includes deployment of the flat-bed front cabin on more transcon routes in the months ahead including Boston-Seattle, Boston-San Diego, New York-San Diego and New York-Las Vegas, along with San Francisco-Ft. Lauderdale and Los Angeles-Ft. Lauderdale.
What do you think about the emerging lie-flat wars? Is lie-flat really necessary on a domestic flight? Which airline do you use for transcons and why? Please leave comments below!