JetBlue’s expansion of the Mint premium product to Fort Lauderdale now has a start date and pricing. The carrier filed the fares over the weekend for the upgraded service between its south Florida hub and Los Angeles starting on 20 March 2017. The Mint upgrade will be available on the 9am westbound flight arriving in LA at noon and on the 1:15pm return, arriving back in Fort Lauderdale at 9:05pm the same day. One month later, on 20 April 2017, the second daily non-stop flight – an evening departure from Florida and the redeye return – also gets upgraded to Mint service. San Francisco and other Mint upgrades will be added as more new A321s are delivered throughout 2017.
The pricing on the flights is likely to drive significant changes in the market dynamics. Seats on the inaugural can be had for $499 today while there are a smattering of $399 one-way fares available as well, the cheapest price I’ve ever seen for a Mint flight. This compares to the $849 price point currently being charged by Virgin America on its two daily flights.There are also a few dates in April, mostly around Spring Break weekends, where the Mint fares are only marginally more expensive than regular “Blue” fares. For $40 or $50 more buying up to Mint is a no-brainer in my opinion.
Launching at a significant discount to the competition is similar to how the initial Mint service took flight from New York two years ago. At that time the quip was that customers “should not expect to see a comma” in the pricing; it appears that in Fort Lauderdale the rates will be even more aggressive. Interestingly, the new fares are more aligned with the rates charged out of Miami by American Airlines and Delta. American typically charges more for flights on its 777s and less for the 737s or A321s (non-transcon config); Delta only operates the once daily 737. And the Mint product is far superior to those offerings while launching at a lower price.
JetBlue made it clear after losing to Alaska Airlines in the bidding war for Virgin America that it was going to attack the long-haul markets of the west coast carriers. Whether through the loyalty program, new product launches or fare wars that battle is growing. And that means all sorts of opportunities for passengers along the way.
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