JetBlue To Charge For Extra Legroom

JetBlue announced yesterday that they’ll be reconfiguring their Airbus A320 fleet to include several rows of seating with 38″ of pitch. These “Even More Legroom” seats will be available to you—for a small fee.

Starting April 1, the airline will be charging between $10 and $20 for four more inches of legroom in rows 2-5. CEO David Barger says the new roomier seats don’t come at the expense of other passengers:

“Lots of Legroom, free TVs, generous snacks and friendly service are all part of the core JetBlue Experience, and these in-flight perks will always be provided at no extra cost to the customer,” said Dave Barger, CEO of JetBlue Airways. “Our new value-added legroom product gives customers the option to make their flight even more comfortable and enjoyable with Even More Legroom, but not at the expense of other customers.”

We wondered if JetBlue was able to violate the laws of physics so we asked them how it was possible to give more legroom to a few without taking it away from others.

Here’s the magic: Rows 1-11 used to have 36″ of pitch while the rest of the plane had 34″. (The industry average is a knee-torturing 31″.) Now rows 2-5 will have 38″ and the rest will have 34″.

We also asked what would happen if all the regular seats were sold out. Does JetBlue anticipate dealing with a lot of parents upset that they have to pay an extra $10 for legroom for an 8-year-old?

“If “Even More Legroom” seats are the only seats available, and the customers do not request or want an “Even More Legroom” seat, we will not require them to pay the fee,” said Alison from JetBlue.

JetBlue Airways Reveals an Option to Exercise Even More Legroom (Press Release) [JetBlue]
(Photo:meghannmarco)

Comments

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  1. An airline fee that actually gets you something? I’m kind of skeptical.

  2. snoop-blog says:

    hmmm. doesn’t sound like a bad deal. but americans nowadays need more fat room, then leg room.

  3. RandoX says:

    Depending on the flight, it would be worth it to me. I commute via bus daily, and I always seek out a specific seat on the bus because I know it has significantly more leg room than the others.

  4. forgottenpassword says:

    Can i pay a fee NOT to be seated between a morbidly obese man & a woman with a screaming baby on her lap?

    because I would actually pay a fee for THAT!

  5. johnva says:

    @snoop-blog: I personally need the leg room much more than “fat room”. And I’m 6’1″, not exactly an NBA player. I would gladly pay this fee if it were only $20. I’m guessing those seats will sell faster than any others on the plane.

  6. Yankees368 says:

    NO no NO! The entire ORIGINAL point of jetBlue was that ALL CUSTOMERS ARE THE SAME! Jetblue pushed hard on the idea that they treat all customers the same, and there is only one class. This violates what makes jetblue…jetblue, and does not make me happy. This is a step in the wrong direction, IMHO.

  7. Sherryness says:

    I’d pay a little more for a little bit more leg room. I think it’s good to be able to buy more if you need it without having to make the huge (prohibitive-to-most) jump to first class. I think buying more witdth (without having to buy an extra seat) would be a good idea, too.

  8. Sarge1985 says:

    If your not advers to assisting with evacuation, you can always request an exit row. I do that and get more than enough room when I travel.

  9. spamtasticus says:

    I would gladly pay for the extra leg room if there was no exit row with “free” leg room available. Personally I think the airlines should start selling tickets like bus tickets. If you dont go… you loose your ticket. Then they would not have to play these price games with us and overbook to stay in business.

  10. char says:

    United did something similar, and they charged $50 for the priveledge.

    I’m between 6’1″ and 6’2″ so any way for me to get more leg room I approve of. I also commute out to CA from NY on jetblue regularly, so I’m pretty okay with this.

    I’m not totally sold on taking out the rest of the 36″ seats to get 3-4 rows of chargeable seats though.

  11. SpdRacer says:

    This is so simple, and most people have no clue. Look at the type of plane you are scheduled to fly on and request the seats behind the bulkhead between cabin sections, there is more leg room there than anywhere else on the plane. When I fly I always request these seats, the emergency exit row is a good one as well, as long as you don’t mind helping people off the now crashed plane. I am 6′ 2 so I know of what I speak.

  12. davere says:

    So do the passengers on row 6 get a discount because the people in front of them can take over more of their personal space?

  13. johnva says:

    @SpdRacer: That’s a great idea, except that on most airline flights I’ve booked in the last 5 years, those are either already sold or not offered to me on their website when I buy my ticket. And I’m not talking about booking only a week in advance or something.

  14. bgrubs says:

    I’m 6’6″ and I’d GLADLY pay extra for leg room…unfortunately SpdRacer it’s usually not possible to “request the seats behind the bulkhead between cabin sections” as those are often reserved for “priority gold extra special super deluxe presidents club passengers” who, in my experience, tend to be about 5’5″! Virgin America charges extra for the leg room seats and I gladly pay it. It’s about time other airlines wise up and do this. Jet Blue will now get more consideration when I’m booking a flight.

  15. beavis88 says:

    @johnva: Exactly.

  16. strangeffect says:

    I think they should have gone with the other suggested title:

    No Seriously, This Is a Ton of Goddamn Legroom

  17. strangeffect says:

    @Yankees368: I think you’re absolutely right.

  18. Geekybiker says:

    @johnva: You have to buy non-deeply discounted tickets. Full fare economy allows you to books those seats.

  19. qwickone says:

    @Sherryness: You’ve basically described first class now.

  20. @johnva: My poor 6’4″ husband was almost crippled after a cross-country flight on an older, small plane. (I can’t remember the seating config or I could look up what kind it was.) He was all twisted up just to fit.

  21. sleze69 says:

    @SpdRacer: That is not always the case. While you will generally have more knee room, in some planes you lose the space where you put your feet under the seat in front of you.

    Also, find a bulkhead row that has more legroom that seats 21D,E,F of an A321. There is so much space that people try to stand in front of you.

  22. qwickone says:

    @Sarge1985: a lot of airlines charge extra for the exit row now :(

  23. durkzilla says:

    How is this any different than charging a premium for a First or Business Class ticket (or “Economy-Plus” on United)?

    I love JetBlue, but I’m beginning to think what makes me love them today will evolve into what I hate about United and Delta….

  24. m. mangosteen says:

    I bought tickets from JFK to LAX last week – and just upgraded to the bigger row for $40 RT. My company already paid for the ticket, so spending $40 for extra leg room is worth it for me. Thanks for the heads up, Consumerist!

  25. johnva says:

    @Geekybiker: Ahh, so that explains it. I guess they all changed in that regard in the last few years to make some extra profit. So that makes them no different from this Jetblue policy, really. Still, how do I know if I’m getting “full fare economy” or not? I’m just going to the airline websites.

  26. DrGirlfriend says:

    My husband is 6’5″. He tries to get emergency row seating for that bit of extra legroom, but isn’t always successful. We’d definitely pay for the extra legroom — especially since most of the times we fly, the flight times are long.

  27. NotATool says:

    @SpdRacer: Same experience here as johnva…great idea, but when you buy the tickets, the bulkhead/emergency exit are not available or sold out. I’ve had some success checking AA.com daily for seats to open up and then switching. I’ve also tried asking at the gate to switch seats and have sometimes been able to. But more often than not, the bulkhead/exit row are just not available. People of all sizes want the extra leg room. I’m 6’6″ and really, really want the extra leg room!

  28. spamtasticus says:

    @durkzilla:

    I’ts different because it is an extra 10 to 20 bucks and not double or triple the price.

  29. nweaver says:

    http://www.seatguru.com is your friend when you are traveling.

    EG, some of the bulkhead seats are bad, not good.

    Also, emergency exit row seats on many planes can get COOOLD, and with some configurations (eg, 2 exit rows) the front exit row may be nonreclining.

  30. IrisMR says:

    Hm, well they don’t seem to be dishonest about it. Sounds like a great idea to me!

  31. johnva says:

    @NotATool: Yeah, it’d be nice if they would institute some sort of body size criteria for who gets those seats. I would gladly pay more for them if they would just make it so that I can actually buy them!

  32. huadpe says:

    The reason Jet Blue does one class is that it lowers the cost structure massively. Adding slightly higher prices for a few rows does nothing to alter the price structure, and so they’ll do it if demand warrants.

  33. Geekybiker says:

    @johnva:

    Well, there is a “class” Y, Z, W or whatever attached to every fare. Its based on the class letter. If you look at your fare details you can normally find it. However the easiest way generally is searching for refundable tickets. Its alot more expensive though.

  34. johnva says:

    @Geekybiker: Thanks. I’ll pay more attention to the “class codes” next time I book and see if I think it’s worth it to me.

  35. slowreader says:

    @Yankees368: Ok, so if I use your logic, everyone in the world is 5 foot 6 inches tall, and doesn’t require any extra space for their legs. I realize the whole “treating everyone the same” idea only goes so far. I like the idea of only having one class, but some people’s need for extra space is irrefutable. I once sat on a flight to japan next to a 6’5 Brazilian man. The poor guy had requested through his travel agency that he be seated in an exit row, but he still got screwed over in the seat assignments. I have no doubt he would have preferred to pay the extra $10 or $20 to have that bit more space, as opposed to the contortionist act he went through.

  36. oneTee says:

    @Eyebrows McGee: I’m about 6’2/6’3 and flying is one of the worst experiences ever for me. I’m not THAT tall and I just don’t fit in the seats at all. It’s insanely ridiculous to me how they just cram everyone into those tiny ass seats. I would gladly pay extra for extra leg room, but what if you don’t get one of those seats…now you’re in a seat that’s an inch shorter than it used to be?! Why not just get rid of ONE row and make all the seats roomier?!?!?!!??!!?!?

  37. Dont Know Me? You Are Me. says:

    @Yankees368: Oh, puhleez. JetBlue has always offered more legroom at the front of the plane. First come, first serve. Is that treating all customers the same? The only real difference is that now you have to pay for it if there are “regular” seats still available.

  38. johnva says:

    @oneTee: Seriously. On the one hand, I don’t expect to get more space than other people for free. But on the other hand, they are making seats so small that a good portion of the population simply does not fit. I’m only 6’1″ and I cannot sit in many airline seats without my knees being jammed against the seat in front of me (especially if the person in front of me reclines).

  39. 13743an says:

    This is common place on the discount airlines in Europe where they have no first class, but three leg room classes. I was wondering when it was going hit stateside.

    I wouldn’t be surprised in litigious society that someone won’t sue stating some sort of discrimination. For example, I am pretty short so I would never buy the extra leg room.

  40. Me - now with more humidity says:

    Sign me up.

  41. BillyShears says:

    I don’t actually have anything to say, I’m just patiently waiting the arrival of Buran so I can read about how since he’s (conveniently) really tall or something this is totally unfair. :)

  42. ARP says:

    I’m surprised that nobody has brought up the fundamental problem: We get less and less legroom each year and now we have to pay more for what we got for free (no additional charge) a few years ago.

    Now if I got a discount to be a sardine, I might consider it, but that it not the case.

  43. Being 6’8 I’d pay for this, for some reason when I try to get an exit row, even when showing up like 2-3 hours before my flight some 5’6 guy gets it. People don’t realize that when you stick me behind someone you end up with 2 uncomfortable people because my knees won’t all my table to come down and the person in front of me can’t recline.

    BOOO!

  44. rkwadd says:

    @ARP: The airlines aren’t screwing you. They are losing bazillions of dollars and are trying to stay in business. Everyone seems to think that because prices go up the consumer is being bent over. Give me a break. Stuff gets more expensive. That’s life.

  45. Wormfather says:

    @snoop-blog: Speak for your self, I’m 6’3″!

  46. benn09 says:

    I was fortunate enough to have one of these roomier seats for free in February. I was a bit skeptical at first when I booked the flight online and picked my seat, but there were no hidden charges.

    The extra room sure was nice…but then again, I’m 5 feet tall. I never have a problem with leg room on a plane :)

  47. damageisle says:

    What I want now is to pay $15 to have the person next to me not speak for the entire flight. Talk about luxury!

  48. TechnoDestructo says:

    @johnva:
    Having fat people spilling over into my seat is worse than having knees in my back.

  49. angelcake says:

    I wonder if this could qualify as height discrimination. If the person can clearly sit comfortably without the extra leg room, charge them. If the person is tall and will be squished like a sardine between rows, waive the fee. Because then it probably edges into possible health risk territory.

    Use height markers like amusement parks to determine if its space greed or genuine need for more room.

    Just my 2 cents.

  50. CapitalC says:

    I’m 6’5″, I too try for the coveted “exit row” but low and behold, some tiny little 5-foot-nothing great grandmother is sitting there instead of me on nearly every flight I’m on (about 20 a year).

    WHAT GIVES?

    I’m certainly not going to pay more just because I’m tall.

  51. scoosdad says:

    When I read this today, I booked a a cross-country business trip in June, and the company gladly consented to paying $40 more so I could be more comfortable. Beats the cost of first class seating any day.

    The rest of the office crew chose to fly out on USAir in coach, buwhaaahaaaaaa!

    Love the TVs on board. On a JetBlue trip a few years back, a lot of us were watching a live Neil Diamond performance on A&E that was taking phone requests from viewers. Someone on board called in on a seat phone and requested he sing a song “for the folks watching on JetBlue flight xx”. Very cool.

  52. cordeduroi says:

    How can David Barger call it “value-added” if they CHARGE you for it? That’s NOT value-added. They give you something then charge you for it. Unless they’re not making a profit on this change (bwahhaha), it’s VALUE-NET-LOSS. Guess that doesn’t sound as good on the PR-o-meter. *grumble*

  53. stanfrombrooklyn says:

    Hey I’d gladly pay $20 for a couple extra inches. Drum roll please. Thank You Ladies and Gentlemen. I’ll be appearing Fridays at Mohegan Sun and don’t forget to catch my special shows this summer in the Catskills.

  54. teapartys_over says:

    This is a great idea. $10-$20 isn’t a lot, and it allows short people to think twice before hogging all the good spots for tall people. It’s just a little added incentive to keep some more comfortable seats free for tall people, and you don’t have to pay crazy first-class prices. I don’t see any downside here.

  55. CapitalC says:

    The problem is they’re not going to “keep the seats for tall people”, they’re going to keep them for people who pay for them”.

  56. Umbershoot says:

    @rainmkr:

    I don’t understand why people recline their seats on flights anymore. We all know that it only screws the person behind you. Even if you’re not tall, you can’t open your laptop up on your lap to watch a movie (though irrelevant on JetBlue).