Discount U.S. airline JetBlue Airways Corp. said it would aim to attract
mid-range customers by offering modestly upscale seating on cross-country
The carrier that is frequently named as a passenger favorite, nonetheless misses out on the premium prices that drives profits at traditional airlines, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Jetblue's prices for a round trip ticket from New York to San Francisco or Los Angeles generally run from $665 to $700, the Journal said.
The airline says revenues for its coach class are competitive. But it does miss out on the $4,000 round trip fares charged by airlines that appeal to champagne-class customers.
JetBlue also fails to match up with the no-frills, just-get-me-there pricing offered by some rivals. As such, JetBlue is caught in the middle without the lowest prices or the highest.
"With returns improving at both the upper and lower end of the industry, the burden remains on JetBlue to prove it can achieve similar financial results in a different way," said industry analyst David Fintzen at Barclays.
The premium seating will include seats that lie down flat, areas in which seats are screened off from the aisle and the option of hot meals and free drinks, the Journal said. They will be introduced on cross-country trips in early 2014.
On Monday, JetBlue is scheduled to announce additional details of its premium seating option, the Journal said.
But the company admitted that it was a departure from their established norm.
"It's a big change for us culturally," JetBlue's vice president of network planning Scott Laurence said.
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