JetBlue Airways on Monday unveiled a premium seating option on transcontinental flights. The discount airline had previously offered only coach-class seats, so while the move is notable, CEO David Barger said it doesn't mean the airline has "sold out."
"No, this isn't a sellout at all. This is listening to our customers," Barger told CNBC, adding he's not worried the first- class option will alienate his company's core group of value-oriented customers. After all, he said customers wanted two things: an affordable first-class option and Wi-Fi Internet availability.
Mint, as the premium service is called, allows passengers who would otherwise fly coach on another airline to be able to afford to fly first class on JetBlue, Barger said. The service includes seats that lie-flat like a bed in a private suite on flights from New York to Los Angeles and New York to San Francisco. Fares start at $499 one-way for travel starting in June, which Barger said is a heavy discount to the competition.
Meantime, Barger told "Street Signs" the airline has made upgrades to its coach class, too, including Wi-Fi and larger screens for entertainment options.
"This is about keeping our very loyal customer base as opposed to seeing them just stay on the other carriers. We think Mint is really going to revolutionize these trans-con markets," he said.