I shouldn’t even be telling you all this, because if word gets out then all the JetBlue “Mint” flights will be sold out. After all, at this writing, there’s only one flight a day, with just 16 seats in each direction on the New York JFK to LAX route. (They’ll be adding a red-eye flight soon, however).
JetBlue's "Mint" plane. (Photo: JetBlue)
Mint is what JetBlue calls its premium cabin, launched with much fanfare on June 16th with fares starting at $599 each way, far less than what United, Delta, Virgin America and American charge for their trans-con routes in business or first class (I was not invited to the launch ceremony or other events so I just used 35,000 TrueBlue points to write this review).
JetBlue doesn’t call their new cabin business or first class, heavens no. That would sound too un-Jetblue-like. So Mint it is. With mint cocktails and mint ice cream and lots of other minty stuff.
So here’s Mint:
One thing I thought I’d miss is the lounge access that American, United and Delta give to customers flying in business or first class (you don’t need to be a lounge member if you’re flying on the JFK-LAX route in business or first). However, at LAX there’s a Virgin America lounge near the JetBlue gates. The JetBlue LAX gates can be a zoo, so definitely worth using the lounge. It costs $40 per visit to non-members, or free to Priority Pass or American Express Platinum members who get their free Priority Pass card. And at JFK, there’s a similar lounge near gate 26 in the JetBlue terminal. So even if you have to pay, with $599 fares vs. $2500 on the other airlines, you’re all set.
We had tweeted that we’d be flying Mint, and surprise! The woman who would be our flight attendant on the flight tweeted back. Kat was very nice, in fact the entire crew was super. A little packet with earplugs and eye shades was already at our seat, and Kat came round with Mint’s signature mint cocktail (with or without vodka). There’s no canned safety demo video—it’s all done manually. Four of the seats are singles, with no one seated next to you, so no crawling over your neighbor to reach the aisle. (So far these seats are being sold for the same as the double seats, but that could change depending on demand).
Lay back in relax in JetBlue’s comfy Mint seats. (Photo: JetBlue)
The seats are probably the most comfortable flat seats ever. They seem to be partially air filled, and you can adjust the firmness. There’s also a massage function (very subtle but it works); a shoulder height adjustable reading light in addition to the overhead lights; a lumbar support; easy-to-reach AC power outlet, USB and earphone jacks (unlike on American’s new A321T jets where you have to contort to reach them); and a little pocket near the outlets for your smartphone. I usually end up squirming after a few hours in any business class seat, but I sat still in these. They’re still very narrow at the shoulders in the lie-flat position (unlike Singapore Airlines’ business class seats which are really wide), but they’re still extremely comfortable (United’s business/first seats on their 757 trans-con jets are also squirm-proof).
Definitely the best airplane food since the Concorde. Maybe even better. Don’t scoff until you try it. JetBlue has teamed up with NYC restaurant Saxon+Parole, and it is outstanding. Really. After a “welcome taste” of chilled carrot and ginger soup with cilantro and a spicy marshmallow (yes, really!), we had a choice of three of the following tapas sized dishes: portbello mushroom mousse with truffles, whiskey jelly and crostini; corn custard and poached lobster with corn salad and picked chili peppers; roasted Atlantic cod with white beans and fennel; ribeye and fingerling potatoes with a plate-licking balsamic-ginger reduction; and fontina-stuffed gnocchi with creamed leeks and black truffles. For desert, seasonal fruit salad with organic mint chocolate chip ice cream from Brooklyn’s famed Blue Marble. Everything was better than most NYC Michelin 3-star restaurants I’ve visited (I know, I can hardly believe it myself). As my seat companion remarked, “Why can’t all airlines do this?” The only downsides were the rolls and bread. A bit stale but oh well.
Forget the peanuts! Try some tasty gourmet fare on JetBlue’s Mint flight. (Photo: JetBlue)
The Entertainment System
This could be improved. Although JetBlue now has 100 TV channels and satellite radio, there were only five movies available and nothing I wanted to see. American Airlines has a much better selection of on demand music, TV and movies (although no satellite TV, and a word of warning, there are no movies on AA’s trans-con service in economy until the fall while they switch from a free model to a paid one). However, WiFi is free on JetBlue. Also, no Bose noise-cancelling headphones in Mint as you’ll find on American’s trans-cons in business and first.
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The Amenity Kit
This is getting in the airline geek weeds a bit, and I’ve never reviewed an amenity kit before, but this is one you will not throw out. Sourced by Birch Box, the women’s kit contained They’re Real! Mascara, Klorane Smoothing and Relaxing Eye Patches, Liz Earle Skin Repair Moisturizer, Super Goop Forever Young Hand Cream SPF 40, Davines Ol All in One Milk, and Reviver Dry Deodorant Swipes. The men’s was kitted out with Lab Series MAX LS Overnight Renewal Serum, Coola Environmental Repair Plus After-Sun Lotion, Baxter of California Hard Cream Pomade, Earnest Supplies Cooling Shave Cream, Jack Black Intensive Therapy Lip Balm, and The Laundress Wash and Stain Bar.
From lip balm to lotion, JetBlue Mint has all of your basic necessities covered. (Photo: Jet Blue)
Another thing to consider is that JetBlue doesn’t have elite level frequent flyer upgrades, as do American, Delta and United. And they currently have fewer flights than the big guys, with their almost hourly service on the JFK-LAX route. So if your Mint plane goes technical, you’re going to get stuck on a regular plane. But other than that, especially considering the price difference, Mint is going to be a huge success. In fact, American and United have already adjusted some of their business class fares downward to compete, on some days and times. Just don’t take my seat.