Late last year, JetBlue invited me to try out its new Mint business class on a roundtrip between San Francisco and New York.
I jumped at the chance because TravelSkills readers have been pinging me with lots of question about it. Why? Most say it’s because they are getting fed up with the recent shenanigans by legacy carriers and that they are considering shifting allegiance, or at least exploring other options.
As a matter of fact, I received another one of these emails this today from TravelSkills reader L.H.: “Delta had been putting Platinum and Diamonds on the upgrade list six hours prior to flight for JFK-LAX/SFO. Today I was told only that only Diamonds get on the list. Now there’s no chance for a Platinum to upgrade either by list or certificate… This is just another reason to not fly Delta on this market. And it seems punitive. [Delta] just pushed my business to Virgin or JetBlue…”
So would this high-flying Delta elite member really be willing to give up all those SkyMiles to give JetBlue a whirl? I doubt it. I’ve watched Delta’s frequent flyer program tick off travelers for the last 20 years, but they nearly always go back.
But have we finally reached a turning point? What JetBlue has put on offer between New York and California with its new Mint class is pretty tempting.
And it’s not too expensive, either– at times, fares are as low as $599 each each way. The only way to upgrade into Mint class is to pay the fare difference- a spokesman told TravelSkills that it does not offer last minute incentives at the gate for folks hoping for an empty seat.
Here’s what’s on offer for next week and next month on one of JetBlue five daily flights.
Now let’s jump on board for a look and a bite!
JetBlue’s new satellite-based inflight wi-fi product is considered one of the fastest in the sky. When it worked, I would agree with that. But there were several spots along the way, especially when flying over the northern plains and Rocky Mountains where the connection went away completely for long periods of time. Not a huge issue since I’m a fan of ANY plane equipped with wi-fi, but more evidence to me that there’s not a completely reliable and speedy service in the sky…yet.
There are 16 Mint class seats on each of JetBlue’s new Airbus A321s. Seats are staggered, so you can sit alone like this guy and feel like Captain Kirk 🙂 . In this seat, there’s even a sliding door to separate you from the commotion in the aisle. Contrary to what a lot of readers think (or have heard), this is not a “private suite” with a door that closes.
While everyone probably wants to sit in the Captain Kirk seat, there is plenty of room to spread out in the seats that are two abreast. But insiders tell me that the Kirk seats always sell out first. There is plenty of in-seat storage space and well thought out nooks like the pouch for smart phones you see in the lower right of the photo above.
When fully extended, that seat is as flat as Kansas. On my flights in both directions, less than half of passengers went fully flat. That’s likely because there was too much going on… and too much to eat and watch on the seatback entertainment systems. (Keep scrolling!) One important note about seatback movies– I was surprised to see that they are not “on demand” which means you cannot start and stop them along the way. They are on a set schedule, which makes watching them during mealtime or between bouts of work a hassle.
Some interesting options here on the seat controller… the discreet floor light, the massage function, and the ability to adjust the firmness of your seat cushion– just like a Sleepnumber mattress. Pretty cool!
In-flight amenity kits for men– thoughtful, entertaining and quirky, but not sure if I would use any of this stuff. Would you?
Birchbox amenity kit for women.
My seatmate, who seemed to be more of a wine connoisseur than I, was very impressed with this selection of wines. Any oenophiles out there want to chime in on this list?
JetBlue wi-fi is sorta like hotel wi-fi– you get a basic connection for free (for now), but have to pay for a high speed connection– and it’s not cheap. If you are like me and spend five hours online between SFO and JFK, you could end up with a $45 wi-fi bill. To be honest, I tested both and found little difference between the free and paid versions, and since the product is still in beta, we’ll just have to wait and see how it all pans out.
Economy class on JetBlue’s A321 is comfortable, clean and modern- but starting this year, it plans on pushing seats closer together, so enjoy the extra space while you can!
A very nice touch for economy class passengers is this snack bar located at the front of the cabin. Includes a wide selection of soft drinks, water and snacks including JetBlues signature blue potato chips.
A hearty breakfast on my SFO-JFK morning flight included several options. I was unable to eat all of it… rare to get so much food! All of it delicious. Might be some of the best food I’ve ever had on a plane. And I’ve had a lot!
Mint passengers choose three of five entrees on dinnertime flights.
I chose the terrine, lentil salad and pot roast. All of it was delicious. Very very impressive. Be sure to see the nice fresh dessert at the top of this post– a fresh fruit salad and mint (natch) ice cream.
Have you flown JetBlue in Mint class yet? What did you think? Would you be willing to dump your allegiance to a legacy carrier to fly in a cabin like this? Please leave your comments below.
Disclosure: JetBlue covered the cost of airfare on this trip between San Francisco and New York.
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