On a recent trip from Orlando to New York we had the opportunity to fly on each of JetBlue’s aircraft, an Airbus A320 and A321. The difference between the two planes was significant and you should know the difference in order to make an educated decision when buying your tickets. You often can choose between the two planes with just a slight difference in departure times.
The A320 has been the workhorse of jetBlue for the past 15 years. When the airline started in 2000, their fleet of A320’s were outfitted with all the modern extras including access to DirecTV at every seat on a 5.6 inch seat back monitor.
Flash forward to 2017 and those 5.6 inch monitors seem a bit small when most passengers are bringing an iPad on board with a larger screen size and better resolution.
Let’s not forget about the leather upholstery that has aged about as well as a Chrysler LeBaron.
Now as someone who brings my own entertainment on the plane, I don’t mind that the seat back screen is small. I’m not watching it anyway. I can get WiFi on most JetBlue planes and can use FlightAware to track my flight in real time. I usually just leave the screen off, if it’s even working at all.
I do like the older seats on these planes as they have a bit more padding than the newer seats, even if the leather is
worn out starting to show its age.
JetBlue has even admitted the interior of these A320’s are showing their age and has announced all of the planes will be updated by 2019.
JetBlue has also focused on keeping passengers fully connected gate-to-gate. With the introduction of its new internet-enabled in-flight entertainment (IFE) system from Thales—STV+—JetBlue will become the first domestic airline offer fully connected seat-back television. The new IFE system will offer 10-inch, 1280p, High-Definition capable touch screens, which is almost double the screen size available on JetBlue A320 aircraft today.
Because the STV+ (Streaming TV Entertainment) system is built on the Google Android platform, passengers will be able to pair their personal electronic devices to their in-seat embedded screen and play personal content.
JetBlue will also expand the number of DIRECTV television channels offered from 36 to more than 100, and will have the capacity to offer over 300 on-demand Hollywood films and other content stored on the aircraft’s local server.
JetBlue started flying A321s in the end of 2013 and they completed refreshing the cabins with the new features by the end of 2016.
The new interiors are stunning. I wasn’t really aware of the difference when I booked our tickets but I was truly wowed by these cabins. The screen is watchable again and has a full listing of TV shows at your disposal. This is by far one of the best domestic airline seats you can buy a ticket for.
The new seats look wonderful but I feel they gave something up in the padding (to save some weight?) compared to the older seats. My backside was starting to ache after 3 hours in these seats and I ended up sitting on my travel pillow for the last hour of the flight.
What plane should you get a seat on then? It’s really a tough decision and Your Mileage May Vary. If the price and times were equal, I’d rather fly on a A321. It’s just a nicer experience on a newer plane. Even though I don’t need to use the seat back entertainment, there’s still something nice about watching TV on a plane. I’d make due with the padding issue with the new seats (I do have my pillow) instead of sitting on the worn out leather on the A320’s.
But that’s my opinion. You might feel differently. At least you know now to check when booking to see what plane you’ll be on.
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