India'sJet Airways announced yesterday that it will begin its first flights to American soil. Starting August 5, this airline will begin daily flights between New York City and Mumbai, with a layover in Brussels.
But here's the truly exciting news: Jet Airways is setting a new industry standard for economy-class seats. On this transatlantic route, Jet will be the first carrier to use economy-class seats that recline a full 40 degrees* from an upright position. It has a 32 inches of legroom. The seat also includes a little net to cradle your feet while you're sleeping. And its headrest is the most fully adjustable one I've ever seen in economy-class.
In another nice touch, every seatback features a 10-inch touchscreen TV, which is the same personal entertainment system that business and first-class passengers use, complete with on-demand movie choices.
Here's hoping that other airlines follow Jet's model and install decent seats. The key principle here is that Jet's baseline level of service for economy-class isn't chintzy.
*Update: 3:16 P.M. ET The original version of this sentence mistakenly said "50 degrees."
Jet hasn't announced its fares yet. At the press conference yesterday, I asked around, and the estimate was a starting price of $800 for seats booked at least 21 days in advance for the New York-Brussels-Mumbai route. This blog will update you when Jet announces its precise fares.
Update: 10:30 P.M. ET Jet has loaded its new fares into its website. On the Newark to Mumbai route in mid-August, there is good availability for $850, $870, and $875 fares (plus taxes of about $300) for your standard combinations of departure and return dates. That $1,175 after taxes is a good price when compared with the $1,694 lowest fare (Delta) we could find on repeated searches for flexible dates on the same route during the same period. However, Jet may bump up its fares in due course...so snap up those tickets while you can.