Yes, you read it right. Now there’s a new way to cross the Atlantic. The catch? It’s on a single-aisle aircraft
Starting 12th August 2021, American carrier JetBlue has begun commercial flights between New York’s John F. Kennedy (JFK) to London Heathrow (LHR) using their brand new Airbus A321LR, the first of which was delivered to the airline in April of this year. For JetBlue, this route is an unprecedented milestone in the carrier’s history as it begins to expand it’s horizons beyond the North and Central Americas as well as the Carribeans. In addition, it also will provide transatlantic travellers with a rather niche way of flying between Big Apple and Big Ben, on a narrowbody aircraft, that is.
According to the JetBlue schedule, services between the two cities will run once daily in each direction, with the New York to London service scheduled to depart at 2148 and arrive in London at approximately 1010 the next day. The return flight will depart Heathrow at 1405 and arrive back in New York at 17:28 the same day, with all times stated as local times.
The JetBlue A321LR Business experience
For most travellers, a journey onboard an Airbus A320 family series of aircraft will last no more than 4 hours in most cases, with the majority of the aircraft type being used by carriers around the world to perform short haul flights. However, there have been some notable and pretty extreme exceptions to this trend in the past, such as the 11hr 35min service that German carrier Lufthansa used to operate between Frankfurt (FRA) and Pune, India (PNQ) with a regionally configured, all economy Airbus A319.
But fret not! It does not seem that JetBlue is aiming to emulate a similar experience. For one, the airline will offer a dedicated Business Class on board their A321LR with lie flat seats.
Within Business Class, two hard product offerings are available to customers; namely Mint Studio and Mint Suite. As seen in the image above, Studio seats will have an edge over Suite seats in terms of increased personal and storage space, a buddy seat for a fellow business class passenger to join you during cruise as well as a slightly larger IFE screen (22′ rather than 17′ in Suites). Other than that, all business class seats will feature a closeable privacy screen which is more commonly seen in the First Class cabins of legacy carriers such as Singapore Airlines and British Airways. There are 2 Studios available on board each aircraft along with 22 suites, making a grand total of 24 seats in Business class altogether.
It goes without saying that on a 7 hour transatlantic flight, an excellent hard product would be wasted without a respectable soft product to compliment it. To this end, JetBlue has partnered with several world renowned restaurants in Manhattan such as the likes of Pasquale Jones, Charlie Bird and Legacy Records to bring business class passengers a taste of the Big Apple at 30,000ft above the Atlantic.
With the launch of the JFK-LHR route by Jetblue, it is clear that the airline is trying to make a statement; a new kid has arrived on the block to challenge the status quo which legacy carriers such as British Airways, United and Delta have held on transatlantic routes for the past few decades. In the past, one would perhaps frown at the idea of a narrowbody crossing the Atlantic due to reasons of comfort and practicality, but with advances in technology and a relaxation of ETOPS regulations, it is quite possible that Jetblue may go down as trendsetters in the industry with more airlines to follow suit in using narrowbody aircraft to perform medium or even long haul routes in the near future.
Certainly, the Airbus A321LR is a stepping stone towards that reality but perhaps in other ways, this trend may very well play out to be a downgrade for passengers and crew whereby narrowbody aircraft will never afford the same levels of ambience and comfort that one can only find on a larger, widebody plane such as the Boeing 777 or 787, staple aircraft used by most legacy carriers to perform transatlantic operations. However, at the very end of the day, passengers will ultimately decide on the future of air travel they desire by voting with their wallets, which has always been the way things have been run in our highly developed, capitalistic societies.