By Mateen Kontoravdis
Trip Report: JetBlue Raises the Bar for Transcontinental Flying
Since its commercial debut in 2014 between New York City and Los Angeles, JetBlue Mint has set the bar high for the domestic premium flying experience. The airline’s unique business class service proved to be a big success and was quickly expanded past the flagship transcontinental route, with cities across the country and in the Caribbean receiving the business class product as well.
As JetBlue set its sights on expanding across the Atlantic, the airline introduced an all-new Mint seat in February 2021 ahead of its first London flight. Development of the new seat took over five years of internal research and development. The final result was a unique seat that you can’t find onboard any other airline.
Following the delivery of the airline’s first Airbus A321LR, N4048J, the new seat began flying on the same route the original Mint debuted on seven years earlier. Today, the new Mint product can regularly be found on domestic flights between New York and Los Angeles and onboard all flights from New York and Boston to London.
I experienced the new Mint Suite during a recent transcontinental trip from New York to Los Angeles to understand how the seat is changing the competitive landscape of one of America’s most lucrative domestic routes.
Departing From JetBlue’s Home at T5
My travels began at JetBlue’s home in JFK’s Terminal five. The 26-gate terminal also conveniently houses several JetBlue partner airlines including Aer Lingus, Hawaiian Airlines, and Cape Air. The check-in area features many self-service kiosks which allow passengers to perform various steps of the check-in process on their own including bag tagging, ultimately simplifying the bag drop process. There is also a dedicated check-in area for Mint passengers flying from T5.
I didn’t have any bags to check and went straight to the security checkpoint. While T5 doesn’t have a Clear lane, there was a TSA PreCheck lane. Clearing security was a breeze and I was soon on my way to gate 27 for the departure.
Unlike other airlines flying transcontinental flights, JetBlue does not offer any lounge access for its premium passengers. Aer Lingus is currently the only airline that has a lounge within T5. The gate area, however, offered plenty of power outlets and fantastic views of the ramp.
The flight was delayed 1.5 hours due to a technical issue with the brand new A321LR. Despite the delay, the airport staff adequately communicated with passengers and regularly announced updates on the flight’s status.
Onboard “Mint, Mint, Wink, Wink”
Once on board, I had a glimpse of the beautiful new Airspace cabin by Airbus. With larger overhead bins and mood lighting throughout, the space felt modern and elegant.
While the Mint cabin looks great in photos, it looks even better in person. Our aircraft, N4058J, featured 22 Mint Suites and 2 Mint Studios. The Studio seats are located in the first row of the aircraft and feature additional space and a seat to dine with a companion. The A321LR features 24 total Mint seats and is primarily used on flights to London. The domestic A321neo will feature a smaller cabin up front with just 14 Mint Suites and 2 Studios.
Once settled in, the flight attendant stopped by each seat to introduce herself, note that this flight would be carbon neutral, and offer a tour of the seat. This was a nice gesture, and as a first-time Mint flier, I appreciated learning about the versatile functions of the new seat.
As boarding continued, the same flight attendant came by once more to offer a pre-departure drink, with the choice of champagne, mimosa and sparkling water. She also dropped off the menu for today’s flight. The menu also has a barcode that can be scanned to learn more about the physical Mint seat and the airline’s various inflight service partners such as Tuft & Needle, Wanderfuel, and Master & Dynamic.
As we made our way to the runway, the purser also stopped by each Mint passenger’s seat to introduce herself and welcome us on board. By 1:50 p.m. we were speeding down JFK’s runway 31L and on our way.
Once airborne, a flight attendant came around with amenity kits for each Mint passenger. JetBlue has partnered with Wanderfuel, a health and wellness-focused travel product kit provider. Wanderfuel has curated four unique amenity kits for the airline, and I received the “Flow” kit which is handed out on lunch and dinner flights.
The kit included a vitamin gummy pack, face mist, vegan hand cream, hydration pack, socks and moisturizing wipe. There was even a small handout with information about each product and recommendations for which stage of the flight to use each product to arrive “refreshed.”
Each Mint passenger was also given a Master & Dynamic headset to use throughout the flight. The headphones were comfortable and offered adequate sound quality.
JetBlue has installed an 18-inch seat-back screen in each Mint Suite. The system offered a diverse selection of entertainment options with over 200 movies and tv shows available. The aircraft also offers free wifi for all passengers and Live TV. Passengers can also pair their phone with the TV screen to use it as a remote.
In addition to fast wifi, the Mint seat also had multiple power outlets and USB ports to stay charged up while in flight. The seat also had one wireless charging dock for compatible devices.
There were also multiple storage compartments throughout the suite and a dedicated space to store a laptop and phone.
Each seat also had an A/C vent and reading light. This vent is a huge plus for passengers traveling on longer flights to be able to semi-control the climate of the suite.
Despite being on board a narrow-body aircraft, the airline has done a fantastic job utilizing every single inch of space within the suite. When seated, the suite feels very spacious. In fact, the seat felt roomier than other business class seats that can be found flying between New York and London. And on the domestic front, this is the most innovative seat flying between New York and Los Angeles.
Delicious Dining at 35,000 Feet
Once airborne, the three flight attendants working the Mint cabin immediately began the lunch service. The meal began with a drink service and some Italian breadsticks to snack on. About 45 minutes later, my food was delivered.
JetBlue has partnered with NYC-based Delicious Hospitality Group (DHG) to curate its various Mint menus. The menu onboard my flight was made in partnership with Pasquale Jones, a well-known NYC restaurant that is owned and operated by DHG.
The menu features five interesting small plates, two cold and three hot. Passengers can choose their three favorite plates to enjoy. The menu also includes a Spotify QR code with a playlist curated for the inflight meal. This was a unique touch and I enjoyed discovering some new artists while eating.
I went with the Radicchio Salad, Pork Shoulder, and Lasagne. When considering that I was dining at 35,000 feet, I was very impressed with the quality and creativity of the meal. Despite being advertised as small plates, the portions were more than adequate. The vanilla gelato marked a sweet ending to an already fantastic meal service.
Following lunch, the cabin lights were dimmed and I decided to take a nap to test out the new seat in the 76-inch lie flat position. JetBlue offers snooze kits with earplugs and eye shades for Mint customers, but none were catered on today’s flight.
The airline has partnered with Tuft & Needle for its inflight bedding. The blanket was very comfortable, as was the memory-foam pillow. The airline also worked with Tuft & Needle to build a comfortable foam mattress within the actual Mint seat. When in the lie-flat position, the bed felt cozy and spacious.
Each seat also has a door. With the door shut, the suite offered ample privacy from the rest of the cabin, perfect for a snooze.
I ended up sleeping for over two hours, so I’d mark this as a very successful test of the Mint bed’s comfort. I woke up just under 30 minutes prior to our landing in Los Angeles. The flight attendant working my section of the cabin stopped by to offer me a bag of chocolate-covered nuts and a hand-written thank you letter.
Until We Mint Again
The purser also stopped by each Mint suite one final time to thank each customer for flying JetBlue and to ensure we had a great experience on board. Before I knew it, we had touched down in Los Angeles and we were on our way to the gate. Time flies when you’re having a great time, and this JetBlue flight was no exception.
Going into this flight, I knew that JetBlue had built a unique business class seat, but the service that came with it was what truly set the entire Mint experience apart from other airlines. The flight attendants offered attentive service throughout the entire trip and the often-overlooked soft product was as refined as the physical seat itself. Despite only being a domestic flight, I arrived in Los Angeles feeling as if I had just come off an international business class flight. As JetBlue expands its footprint and takes delivery of more Mint-equipped jets, I look forward to one day flying this product on a flight to Europe.