JetBlue’s Maiden Airbus A321neo Makes First Passenger Flight

The hotly awaited JetBlue A321neo has finally completed its maiden flight. The airline has waited nearly a decade to operate this new and efficient jetplane with passengers on board, having placed an order for 85 of the A321neo model way back in October 2011.

Jetblue A321neo
The first A321neo is named David Neeleman after the airline’s founder. Photo: JetBlue

First commercial flights

The new aircraft’s first commercial flight originated at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, and terminated at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. This route was chosen specifically, as it commemorated the first revenue flight that JetBlue conducted nearly 20 years ago.

While the A321neo offers several advantages over the previous A321 generation, possibly its most attractive quality is a 15-20% boost in fuel efficiency. The improved engine fitted in the A321neo also offers a 500 nautical mile increase in range.

JetBlue’s A321neo deliveries have been slow from Airbus. Photo: JetBlue

JetBlue was forced to wait so long for its first A321neo airliner due to production delays at Airbus. And despite orders finally being fulfilled, only six of the 13 aircraft originally scheduled to be delivered during 2019 will actually be made available. JetBlue’s president, Joanna Geraghty, confirmed this during a July conference call with investors.

“We’re very disappointed with the continued delays to our A321neo program as a result of the Airbus production issues,” JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes commented during the call.

Industry-leading qualities

JetBlue had received its first A321neo aircraft in late June, leading to a good deal of speculation regarding when the much-anticipated aircraft would finally go live. JetBlue has been keen to promote the qualities of this particular aircraft, with Hayes claiming that the airliner boasts industry-leading performance.

“JetBlue’s new A321neo boasts features such as the widest and most comfortable seats available for this aircraft type, and a host of thoughtful design elements that are meant to enhance customer comfort and help our crew members deliver award-winning service,” Hayes told Business Insider.

Another notable aspect of the A321neo is an entirely new cabin, which JetBlue is also planning to retrofit in around 20 of its existing A320 planes. Brand-new seats are included in the new generation, while pleasant mood lighting benefits from an appropriate blue-hue. You can take a tour of the new plane in the multimedia below:

The A321neo also includes a self-service snacking area, which is referred to as the ‘pantry’. AIM Altitude has designed this aspect of the aircraft, having previously been involved with bar and lounge design in planes from Emirates, Qatar, and Virgin Atlantic.

Luxurious seating

Seating is also intended to be comfortable and luxurious, with adjustable headrests, and more extra legroom seats included than in previous models. Airbus has also included 10-inch HD touchscreens in the aircraft, although interestingly JetBlue has scrapped remote control of the devices, with passengers instead able to pair their phones with the screens in order to use them as remotes.

JetBlue phone remote
Smartphones will become the new remote control. Photo: JetBlue

JetBlue intends to use 13 A321LR Aircraft that are currently on order for service to London from New York And Boston, beginning in 2021, while 13 A321XLR will fly to a variety of European cities.