Flight Review: JetBlue Mint New York (JFK)- Los Angeles
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This June JetBlue officially launched their premium transcontinental business class product: Mint on the lucrative JFK-LAX route. These retrofitted A321s started with a single daily flight between New York’s JFK and Los Angeles’ LAX. It’s already been so popular that they plan to expand to seven routes between these two hubs by year’s end, and this past Sunday, the carrier rolled out its first New York JFK-San Francisco (SFO) route.
Last week, I tried Mint myself for the first time, flying from JFK to LAX, and was really impressed. I missed out on a seat in one of the carrier’s private, close-door Mint suites in rows 2 and 4, but after several hours stretched out on their 6’8″-long, non-enclosed lie-flat seat, I arrived rested, relaxed and well fed. If JetBlue ever offers a wider route network (and more partners for international award redemptions), Mint might even become my first choice for transcon travel. Until then, it’s not enough to pull me away from American Airlines Executive Platinum status.
Each way, seats in Mint are available at three rates, in cash or TrueBlue points:
$599 (restricted, refundable) or 35,000 points
$809 (unrestricted, refundable) or 61,700 points
$1,209 (refundable) or 110,600 points
I booked last-minute, so my flight was $999, but several TPG members flew Mint on the 6am flight to the TPG To Go app launch party and paid only $599.
Be aware that elite Mosaic status in the revenue-based TrueBlue rewards program doesn’t allow upgrades to Mint class, so you’ll always have to redeem for these seats or purchase them outright. Interestingly enough, the seat next to me was empty, but right before takeoff the flight attendant brought up a passenger from coach to sit next to me. I asked him and he said he saw the amazing cabin and asked about upgrading and they offered it for $350, which they processed at the gate. I bet that was the fare difference between what he paid and Mint, but JetBlue may be testing an on-board upgrade.
If you need points for a JetBlue Mint award, you could also transfer Amex Membership Rewards points to JetBlue at a ratio of 5:4. For example, you could trade 87,500 MR points for 70,000 TrueBlue points and redeem for a discounted round-trip fare in Mint. This gives you a value of about 1.37 cents per Membership Rewards point, which is neither great nor terrible.
At the Airport
Unlike the legacy carriers, JetBlue does not offer complimentary lounge access for Mint passengers. I arrived to JFK Terminal 5 with about an hour to go before departure, so I hung in the gate area with a coffee, observing the scene to see if they’d be trying to sell upgrades or if they’d make sure Mint boarding was orderly. The gate area was orderly, but a large crowd started to crowd as boarding approached. The gate agents announced Mint and Mosaic boarding and policed it- telling those with Extra Leg Room seats to wait until they were called.
The Seats and the Cabin
In the new five-row Mint cabin, there are 16 fully lie-flat seats that extend up to 80 inches, which means that even at 6’7″, I can actually stretch all the way out with an inch of leg room to spare. Twelve of the seats are open, 20.5 inches wide, and arranged in 2 x 2 configuration in rows 1, 3 and 5, and four others are 22-inch-wide, private, closed-door suites arranged 1 x 1 in rows 2 and 4.
Surprisingly, JetBlue charges the same price for both types of Mint seats. The only catch is that the closed-door suites are first-come, first-serve, so it’s just up to chance if you manage to book one – I wasn’t so lucky! Seated in one of the 2 x 2 seats in the first row (1D), I was struck with a bad case of seat envy, and kept sneaking glances at the closed-door suite behind me in the second row. Ah, well…maybe next time. Seatguru.com states that row 1 has more legroom, but I barely fit and I’m 6’7″, so I doubt that. Being in the aisle seat meant I was exposed and row 1 is right behind the galley, which was bright and a little noisy. I’d recommend rows 3 or 5 if you can’t get a suite.
Overall the seat was a little slim and my neighbor had to do acrobatics to get over me when I was reclined, so I wouldn’t say this product is more superior to what Delta/American/United offer, but the suites looked great- with privacy, direct aisle access and more room to store things. I really recommend booking the suites, though the normal seats are comfortable enough- though narrow. I’m broad shouldered and fit squarely in the seat when in lie-flat mode. I imagine larger folks would have an issue with fitting comfortably.
I shot this video to give you a sense of the Mint cabin’s seats, spaces and layout:
When I first got to my Mint seat, I found a friendly, hand-signed note from the cabin crew placed on top of a big pillow and a soft, grey duvet-style blanket with mint green trim, and felt immediately welcome. Then I discovered the seat’s brilliant, built-in massage function, and switched it on even before the flight even got going. Soon after I was offered a complimentary “RefreshMint,” a cocktail with honey-infused limeade, fresh mint and vodka – which several people recommended and I just had to try. It was pretty delicious!
Entertainment Options & Technology
Mint’s in-seat IFE system features a 15-inch flat-screen, although not an industry-standard touchscreen; to access any of the system’s 100 channels of DirectTV and the Sirius XM radio, I had to use the remote imbedded in my seat’s armrest. And rather than a traditional headset, Mint lends you iGrado wrap-around headphones. There are no pre-loaded movies, so you’ll have to hope that DirectTV has programming that you like during your flight. the JetBlue app allows you to check programming before your flight.
You’re given complimentary access to Fly-Fi, JetBlue’s in-flight Wi-Fi, and there are two power outlets (110V and USB) at every Mint seat. In addition to the seat’s massage and angle-adjustment functions, there’s a clever “Wake Me For Service” button at each seat to let a steward know you’d like to be woken for meal service. Having missed a few premium-class meals in the past when I simply couldn’t stay awake – only to wake up groggy, hungry and out of luck – I think this button is a really cool feature.
Mint amenity kits are customized separately for men and women, with always-changing products curated by Birchbox, an online service that provides its subscribers a rotating monthly selection of beauty and grooming samples. The amenity kits, which feature drawstring bags tucked inside slim, recyclable cardboard boxes, may include items like hair styling products, hand lotion, face-washes and moisturizers, deodorant, shaving cream and lip balm from Jack Black, Ernest Supplies, LAB Series and more. The products and brands will change every month, so it’s unlikely you’ll be given the same amenity kit twice.
Mint’s food service and selections were my favorite part of my flight. On most airlines, the food at 35,000 feet is no picnic, but Mint gets it just right. NOURISHMINT, allows you to customize your main meal by choosing three items from a list of five tapas-style dishes curated by New York City restaurant Saxon + Parole.
Mint’s in-flight menu changes every month, offering seasonal produce and recipes. From the menu pictured above, I chose the charred lobster mac-and-cheese, the roasted artichoke and the ribeye, and all three were delicious. (And I found out that the pictures of a horse and pony next to the green goddess salad were for the logo from Saxon + Parole and items that can be found on the restaurant’s menu.)
After my lunch, I decided to rest instead of caffeinating from the onboard cappuccino machine, the first kind purposely built for an US airline. I enjoyed my only semi-guilt-inducing dessert of Blue Marble peppermint ice cream and some fresh pineapple, mango and watermelon, but especially appreciated the brownie gift from NYC-based Mah-ze-Dahr Bakery that I was given before deplaning. This is to-go treat packed in a ribboned box is a sweet touch from JetBlue, and quite literally left me with a good taste in my mouth about their service.
Was This Flight a “Mint” Experience?
Overall, I enjoyed my five-hour flight, and was really impressed with the Mint cabin’s swanky design and surprisingly delicious food. The lack of privacy and non-direct aisle access make the regular seats far less disable than the suites in my opinion. I’d like to try out the suites next time to see if the experience is different- but I could tell looking at those in the suites they seemed to be even extra smug!
Have you flown JetBlue’s Mint yet? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below!