A new era was launched today as JetBlue Mint took to the skies. The 9:30am departure on Sunday morning from JFK to Los Angeles is the first time the carrier has flown with a premium cabin. Welcome on board the inaugural flight!
The staggered seating arrangement offers up 16 flat bed seats in the forward cabin; four of the seats are “mini-suites” with a door to provide additional privacy. The door doesn’t really do much in terms of blocking others out – it is too low to hide behind – but the single seat still has an incredible amount of space available. The seat itself is wide and long and then there is the shelf on the window side and the storage on the aisle side. For the solo traveler it is likely the most spacious and private business class offering in the premium transcon market.
JetBlue worked hard to tie the product to its New York City roots and that shows most in the meal service. The main courses are curated by Saxon + Parole (Manhattan-based) while the sorbet at dessert is from Blue Marble, a Brooklyn-based shop. And keeping with their tradition of doing things a bit differently the meal is presented, well, differently.
First up, shortly after take-off, an amuse bouche and beverage (I had the Mint signature drink, a honey-infused lemonade with a sprig of fresh mint on top; vodka is optional according to the flight attendants but I think that should just be a “yes” every time):
The main meal is set up somewhat tapas-style. Rather than just choosing a main course passengers have a menu of five options, three hot and two cold. Pick any three to make up your meal.
I’ve only had the brunch meal (twice now) and the food actually has flavor beyond just salty. The bacon is smoky (best bacon I’ve had in the air) while the watermelon was juicy and sweet. The French toast with figs was VERY sweet but also actually tasted like French toast, not just fried bread. I’d like to see jam for the croissant but otherwise no complaints at all on the selections available (Musli and the S+P signature chive & cheese biscuit are the other two on the menu right now), the quality of the food or the flavors. And, while I’ve heard a few say it looks too small, it was plenty of food for me. They also have the regular snacks blue chips, etc.) and a fresh fruit basket available during the flight if you get hungry.
Dessert was served shortly after the main meal: fruit and sorbet. I paired it with a glass of the sparkling wine which is simple but quite nice.
And then I took advantage of the extra-long bed to lay down for a nap.
The foot-well gets a bit narrow in the single seat; it feels a bit wider on the doubles (I didn’t measure). But it also felt a bit wider this time around versus my prior tests of the seat. Or maybe it is because I bothered to take my shoes off this time since I actually went to sleep. The pillow was reasonably supportive and the blanket comfy; both had small Mint touches included. A sleep kit – eye-mask and earplugs – was also provided.
I woke about 90 minutes later to find the crew handing out presents on board. First up was the amenity kit, a 5-piece selection from Birch Box specially curated for JetBlue Mint. There are options for men or women with different goodies inside and JetBlue says they’ll change up the selections every now and then to keep things fresh. It is decidedly not your typical toothbrush and comb kit. And that’s a definite plus to me; I’ve seen far too many traditional amenity kits at this point.
There was also a special gift on offer for the Mint inaugural flight, a 10″ Cocoon Grid-IT case specially labeled for Mint. And I’m giving it away to a reader.
Just leave a comment below and I’ll pick a winner on Friday at noon EDT and send it on over. (Prize has been awarded; thanks for playing!)
And, finally, a brownie & shortbread box to go. I ate mine on-board but it can also go home with you.
On the IFEC front the new LiveTV system puts a large, crisp screen on offer with an upgraded interface as well. The software is pretty snappy and a significant step up from the old version. There are still improvements to come, including making it touch-screen capable (there is a controller in the arm rest) and hopefully adding closed captioning to the movies; the DirecTV feed has closed captioning available today on all channels. The screen does not pivot which makes it hard to watch TV while lying down and the movies are not on-demand. Two relatively small nits to pick, but worth noting as it does affect the experience.
The aircraft does have the FlyFi internet service which was spectacularly fast throughout the flight for me. There were a total of 84 connected devices by the end of the flight and at the half-way point it was 71 devices and 4.5 gigabytes of data consumed. Pretty impressive numbers, especially considering the service quality remained solid. I was connected remotely to some servers on the ground doing my day job for a couple hours and it was clear that I wasn’t there in person but still very responsive. Definitely good enough that I could consider it a work environment. And that was the free version.
The seat controller is also a bit limited. Not so much that I couldn’t get the seat where I wanted it to be, but there isn’t a direct control over the back recline. Instead you tweak it with the landing/upright, relax and bed buttons and then adjust the leg rest to be where you want. It is a bit of a strange setup, but I did eventually manage to make it work the way I wanted to I’m not too frustrated.
And then there’s the part where the flights are actually affordable. Not in the I’m going to be paying for this every time I fly level, but definitely in the I can afford to do this for a splurge every now and then ballpark. The starting price is $599 one-way and the refundable fare tops out at $999 right now. The mini-suite seat is just part of the Mint cabin so no difference in fare to get that, though the limited inventory means you need to pay attention to seat assignments to make it work. I paid for my own ticket on the flight, though I did get a bit of help from JetBlue at the last minute to switch from a trip later in the week to a seat which opened up on the first flight.
The product is not perfect, to be sure. None of the transcon premium cabin offerings are. I think that the JetBlue Mint product is very, very competitive across the board, better than the competition in some areas and trailing in others. No lounge access might be a problem for some passengers, for example; I don’t mind at all given the limited value of the lounge offerings. But given the very competitive hard and soft product – plus the part where the fares are way lower – it seems that for many customers this is the sweet spot in the price/service matrix. Of course, with corporate contracts and such many transcon flyers don’t pay the published fares, but the numbers from JetBlue are still having a significant impact on the market. And that sort of competition should yield very good results for passengers.
Other coverage of the new service/inaugural flight:
- JetBlue Introduces Premium Service in New ‘Mint’ Class
- Flight Review: JetBlue Mint “Suite” Inaugural
- JetBlue’s New ‘Mint Class’ Is Now The Nicest Way To Fly Cross-Country
- JetBlue goes 2.0 as low-cost carrier unveils Mint premium product
- JetBlue Mint introduced to the premium transcon market
- Some airplane seats which I cannot wait to fly
- JetBlue’s Suite Seats, and how they compete in the transcon premium market
- Comparing the players in the “Transcon Wars”
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