JetBlue has celebrated the entry into service of its first Airbus A220, also known as the “Baby Bus,” with a three-hour flight from Boston Logan to Tampa Bay. Before the flight, the aircraft, named “Rob Dewar” after Airbus’ SVP Customer Satisfaction, was warmly welcomed in an event at the boarding gate.
Delivered on December 31, 2020, JetBlue’s first A220 features a bespoke tailfin design called “Hops,” which the OEM said is to reflect the fact that it will be “carrying passengers on many short trips together as part of a larger journey, commonly referred to as ‘hopping.’”
A replacement for the airline’s Embraer E-190 fleet, the A220 is only the third new aircraft type to enter the JetBlue fleet since the airline launched in 2000. The carrier is hoping to take delivery of seven A220s by the end of the year, with the full 70- strong fleet due to enter service by 2026.
JetBlue’s A220-300 features 140 18.6-inch-wide Collins Meridian seats in a 2 x 3 configuration, including 30 “Even More Space” seats with a 35-inch pitch across four rows at the front of the aircraft and two rows at the over wing exits. The remaining 110 seats feature a 32-inch pitch. Even with the extra width compared to a standard economy-class seat, the aisle is still broad enough to allow a passenger to walk by a service trolley. Each seat is upholstered in vegan Ultraleather and the seatback is contoured at knee level to provide additional comfort.
There is a custom-designed mesh seatback stowage area with various separate pockets for water and personal electronic devices, and tray tables are large enough to accommodate a 15-inch laptop. Seats are also equipped with three power ports: Attached to the in-flight entertainment (IFE) screen is a USB-A port, while beneath the seat passengers can access a 110V port or a 15 Watt USB-C outlet.
The A220’s 10.1-inch, 1080P high-definition IFE screens deliver 30 DIRECTV channels alongside hundreds of movies and premium content from HBO and Showtime. A picture-in-picture feature and an updated GeoFusion 3D moving map round out the picture. The IFE cleverly pairs with a mobile phone, providing a secondary touchless remote. On the inaugural flight, the complimentary ViaSat 2 Fly-Fi solution delivered impressive speeds.
However, it could be argued that the best form of entertainment on offer is completely analog: Massive windows, some 50% larger than those on a typical A320, provide fantastic views that are complimented by LED mood lighting, which is programmed to JetBlue’s signature blue color on boarding.
Overhead, seven-foot-high ceilings are flanked by generous overhead bins, which allow every passenger to carry-on a standard bag. There is one lavatory located at the front of the cabin and two at the rear, which are finished with blue subway-style patterns – an homage to JetBlue’s being New York’s self-proclaimed hometown airline.
JetBlue’s first A220 will initially radiate out of Boston, flying market-finding new routes and additional frequency capacity missions, much like the carrier’s E-190s. But with a range of 3,350 nautical miles and a 30% reduction in cost per available seat mile compared to its predecessor, JetBlue believes the aircraft will be a game-changer across its entire network.