Review Of JetBlue’s New Mint Class A321 Service

I’ve been wanting to try the new JetBlue “Mint” product that is exclusively operated on the New York > Los Angeles route. It hasn’t quite worked with my schedule, but my friend recently flew in the new Mint “suites” and offered to share his impressions. He’s one of the funniest people I know and quite possibly the only person that appreciated Part 1 of the Real Housewives of New York Reunion more than I did.

Please pardon the picture quality, as he wasn’t planning on sharing these with a wide audience, though agreed to write a report when I asked him to.


Hi there, everyone.  I’m a longtime reader of the blog, first time caller.  I’m here to tell you about JetBlue Mint, which I flew this past weekend from LAX to JFK and back.  JetBlue isn’t a legacy airline with a viable mileage program, alliance, or real elite recognition, so it’s not typically on Ben’s radar screen (nor, really, mine).  But I’m a sucker for shiny new products, good marketing and the possibility of seeing a celebrity in-flight, so I thought Mint – at $599 each way, a hell of a deal – would be a glamorous way to get to New York for a very short weekend, especially since one leg would be a redeye.

Now, as I have discovered, “glamorous” is not really a word that applies to our friends at JetBlue.  Virgin America seems to have really tapped into that glamorous cross-country market, with planes that feel stylish, and a hipster crowd of cognoscenti in the front and in the back (true story: I once sat in the same row as Boy Meets World’s Ryder Strong… in coach!… on VA.  If you consider TGIF castmembers to be glamorous. Which I do).  Even Virgin’s giant white leather recliner seats in First feel different and sexy.  JetBlue, on the other hand, has always prided itself on being the Airline of the People, the champion of the common man.

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The Booking Process

When I knew we had a wedding to go to in New York this summer on a quick turnaround, months ago, I eagerly jumped on JetBlue’s website and, surprisingly, seats in Mint were wide open at the $599 price point.  Mint has five rows of first class, two of which are “suite” rows of one “suite” seat on either side of the aisle, and three rows of which are four-across seating in the manner of United’s P.S. service business class seats. I booked ourselves into two of the suites on both legs, since there was no cost differential, and the seating chart was wide open.

The Boarding Process

JetBlue flies out of LAX’s Terminal 3, the same sad-sack terminal that Virgin America uses, and one badly in need of renovation.  Luckily, Terminal 3 is home to Virgin America’s Loft lounge, which is partnered with Priority Pass, so we had free use of a really nice domestic lounge while we waited.  Our flight was a redeye scheduled to depart at 8:59pm and land at 5:10am at JFK, which is not ideal for a redeye and which I wasn’t looking forward to.  In reality, though, the flight was delayed by well over an hour, so the flight ended up being more of a “typical” red-eye where you’d feel sleepy at a normal hour, and land in New York at a not-inhuman time – and luckily we could wait out the delay at the Loft.  However, when we descended from the Loft down to the gate area, what awaited us was utter chaos.

I mean, UTTER CHAOS.  It looked like Port Authority Bus Terminal the day of a citywide evacuation.  Now, I don’t mean to sound snobby, but… (I mean, of COURSE I’m going to be snobby, otherwise, what fun would this be?) JetBlue is truly an airline of the People, of Real Amurricans.  It’s clear few business or otherwise frequent flyers use JetBlue, and so you’re left with a sea of first-time leisure travelers.  And, you’re aware of the phrase “gate lice”? Well, this was a full-scale infestation of gate lice.  People literally climbing over cordons and ropes and ignoring the one sole gate agent.  When they finally announced boarding for Mint, people were still pushing us out of the way to board before us.

The return flight was slightly better, but not really.  Terminal 5 at JFK, the JetBlue terminal, is indescribably nice, just a really lovely place.  And it being JetBlue’s home turf, the gate agents were far more competent.  But the airline seems to have a policy whereby lines = evil, where it doesn’t matter what boarding zone they’re calling, as long as you can muscle your way up to the front of the line, you can board first.  As my boarding card was being scanned, a Mosaic member (which is JetBlue’s “elite” status) in coach literally pushed me aside and handed his boarding pass to the gate agent, and announced to everyone that because he was Mosaic, he had priority boarding.  The gate agent didn’t seem to bat an eye (or care to enforce the line).

All I’m saying, JetBlue, is do what the legacy carriers do and have two lines – one for Mint/Mosaic, and one for everyone else.

The Seat

I’m going to put the bitchiness aside for just a moment to say that when we did board, we boarded onto a shiny new plane with a beautiful interior. Mint is simply stunning, all clean lines and serenity.  Though, a bitchy point:  Mint is at the front of the cabin near the boarding door, and when Ma and Pa Kettle are pushing their way onto the plane, they are stopping to oooh and aah at the Mint seats, pointing at the fancy pants people riding in FIRST CLASS with just a hint of derision, and generally making you feel like you’re on display at an Occupy Wall Street rally.

But back to the good stuff.  Mint is essentially two classes in one.  The “suites” are truly spectacular, and certainly one-of-a-kind for transcontinental travel.  I know that American’s A321 transcons have a separate First class, but it couldn’t possibly compare with the Mint suites.  Our seats were extraordinarily spacious and had copious amounts of storage space.  So much storage space, you guys.  And then tons of shelf/counter space off to the sides for laptop storage, bags, etc.  The suites have “doors,” as it were, which are only about waist-high but do a wonderful job of making you feel private when you’re sleeping or relaxing or watching Million Dollar Listing: Miami and you don’t want anyone to know your secret shame.

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 And the seats/beds!  They’re pretty wonderful.  Evidently JetBlue’s seats are cushioned with air, so you can make the seat or bed as firm or as soft as you like, and when fully reclined the seats feel wide and quite long.  I wouldn’t say it’s like sleeping on a real bed, but it did feel like I was sleeping on a really comfortable couch, if that means anything.  JetBlue provided a quilted comforter and a surprisingly heavenly (though not Westin™ Heavenly™) pillow.  With a Xanax, a half an Advil PM and a glass of pinot noir, I slept like a baby.  (And truthfully, I slept better than I did in First on Cathay Pacific, but mostly because Cathay Pacific keeps their cabin temperatures set at “Bangkok on an April afternoon.”)

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As for the non-suite Mint seats, they still offer the same soft-product amenities as the Suites, and they have the same seat pitch, cushioning and recline, but being two across they lack the storage and privacy that the Suites have.  They are very good business class seats, comparable to AA, UA and DL’s transcon product.  But they are not Suites.  So if you have the option of choosing Suites over two-across – even if you’re traveling with a partner or friend – choose the Suites.  It’s a no-brainer.

The Food and Drink

JetBlue welcomes you with a signature mint-flavored cocktail (or mocktail), which I declined in favor of sparkling wine on my outbound flight and pinot noir on my return flight.  (Note: it ain’t Krug.  Though I looked it up and the Argyle sparkler they offer is a $20-30 bottle of wine, it still tastes like something you’d want to add orange juice to at an all-you-can-drink mimosa bar.  New rule should be never to order “champagne” on a domestic flight.)  I’ve been told the cocktail is delicious, but I didn’t really feel like hard liquor.  I prefer to get drunk on wine, like a good Housewife (hopefully Heather, but I’ll take LuAnn… oh, who am I kidding, I really want to be LuAnn).

On the redeye, you’re offered an amuse-bouche followed by three set small-plate courses, all of which were served cold.  To be honest, the food was good but totally unmemorable, though it’s possible that my memory of the food was wiped clean by the aforementioned Xanax/Advil PM/wine combo. On the flight back, we were offered an amuse bouche, a choice of 3 out of 5 small-plates (most of which were warm) and dessert.  The amuse bouche was a deviled egg, which HELL YES.  I stole my husband’s, also, because he doesn’t care for deviled eggs and that is his one true flaw in this world.  I then had the Corn Custard and Poached Lobster appetizer, which was delicious; the Beet Gnudi, which was apparently a special dish from a trendy hipster eatery in NoHo that was honestly not meant to be reheated (most of the gnudi was gummy and stuck to the serving plate); and the Herb-Roasted Monkfish, which was decent.  Dessert was coffee ice cream (though the menu said mint chocolate chip), which was at the perfect temperature, somehow, and just creamy and velvety smooth.  Such a nice change from the rock-hard ice cream I’m otherwise used to on planes.

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Though the sparkling wine is avoidable, the Meiomi Pinot Noir is actually a really lovely wine, the kind you’d bring to a nice dinner party.  Whatever complaints about JetBlue’s taste level that I may have, I will say their sommelier keeps it classy (and maybe should be promoted to keeping other things on the plane classy).

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As you land, they hand you a little gift box of a brownie and cookie.  These are good.  You should eat them.

The “Amenity Kit”

Ugh, the amenity kit.  Mint will not shut up about how revolutionary their Birchbox-branded amenity kit is and how proud they are to offer it to customers.  Well, it’s useless, sorry.

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For those of you who aren’t familiar with Birchbox, evidently it’s a web-based service that, for a not inconsequential monthly subscription fee, will send you a box of sample-size toiletries once a month.  So if you want to pay $20/month to get a dollop-size of sunscreen and some eye serum, well have I got the useless tech startup for you.  In any event, the Birchbox amenity kit comes in a bright green drawstring bag and contains such useful items as shaving cream, after-sun lotion, eye renewal serum and lip balm, but nothing so useful as, I dunno, toothpaste, a toothbrush, deodorant or a comb.  So if you were hoping that your amenity kit would help you refresh yourself when you wake up from a redeye, you’re S.O.L., Mint flyers.  But if you were hoping to slather on some lotion to protect yourself from harmful UV rays while in an enclosed, pressurized Airbus cabin, you’re in luck!

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The IFE and Electronic Stuff

Biggest pro of all:  Mint – and the entire plane, actually – comes with free Wifi that JetBlue calls Fly-Fi.  It’s reasonably fast and infinitely preferable to Gogo.  It feels so civilized of JetBlue to offer free wifi that it seems like a no-brainer that other airlines don’t.  If this starts an industry-wide revolution, then all the better.  Fly-Fi was fast, reliable and easy to use.  You could pay a little under $10 an hour for high-bandwith Wifi if you wanted to download movies or stream media, but it seems unnecessary for basic uses like checking Facebook, uploading photos to Instagram and reading the Wikipedia entry for Countess LuAnn de Lesseps.

As for the seatback IFE, the screen is relatively large but doesn’t tilt or angle, meaning that it’s only really watchable from a semi-reclined position. If you lie fully flat, you’re not going to also be able to watch TV and drift off to visions of Sonja Morgan’s nonexistent yacht in your head.  The IFE is also strangely not touch-screen, even though by all accounts it appears to be touch screen, and is controlled by a not-very-user-friendly remote control.  From what I understand, JetBlue has imminent plans to upgrade the IFE on these flights, which is good news.  I ended up mostly watching DirecTV, but JetBlue offers a handful of “movie channels” on a loop, which in this day and age seems positively retro.  If you were hoping for on-demand entertainment, you should check out Virgin America.

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On our outbound flight, we were presented with brand-new headphones from Grado Labs, which were phenomenal (we were told this was the first day of using the Grado headsets on JetBlue, which would make sense as other, previous Mint reviews seem to indicate that the headphones were substandard and junky).  They weren’t really noise-cancelling per se, but they more than did the trick.

Service, Atmosphere and Final Thoughts

I have to say that Mint service was really unparalleled.  It truly feels like the kind of caring, personalized, thoughtful service you get on an international airline, and when you enter there are little welcome cards at your seat signed by the in-flight crew.  At all times warm and professional, humorous but unobtrusive, the Mint crew has got their $#it down.  I like Virgin America’s service, and have had good flight attendants on Delta and United, but typically don’t expect to fly a transcon for the service as one might fly, say, Cathay or Singapore for its service.  Mint might truly be a game-changer in that regard…

Except that, but for the gracious service and the hard product (which, granted, are the two most important things by far), flying Mint didn’t actually feel all that rarefied.  And maybe that’s a good thing, bringing First Class to the masses.  A recent emigre from Eastern Europe was on the seat in front of me on the way out, marveling to everyone that he had bought his seat for “only $250” (unclear if it was a buy-up, if he bought through a consolidator, or if he was just lying) and offering cash to the flight attendant for his vodka, and, well, let’s just say he wasn’t the only one in the cabin who had never flown premium (or anything but Aeroflot) before.  And I know I sound like a dick when I say that.  And I truly am glad that Mint is in the grasp and reach of far more people, and that premium seats can now be purchased outright instead of had only by virtue of mileage awards, Platinum status or generous employers.  But… there was a guy in full-on Duck Dynasty gear on my return flight.  And a portly gentleman with a neck tattoo of Jesus.  And just generally, the feeling on board JetBlue is that it is an airline for the masses, a hipper Southwest.  And that’s honestly, truly great.  Airlines should NOT just be catering to savvy business travelers only, and it’s terrific that there’s an airline that can offer lower fares to infrequent flyers.

But… the feeling is very incongruous.  You have a best-in-class hard product that is, frankly, not being marketed to JetBlue’s advantage.  The LAX-JFK route is very competitive and sophisticated.  You could, and Virgin America regularly does, stock first class full of music industry execs, TV actors, dot com entrepreneurs and fancy architects.  But our flight might as well have been Orlando to Wichita.  JetBlue, moreso than other domestic airlines, feels a bit like a bus, frankly. And no matter how wonderful the service, how delicious the food, how groundbreaking the seat – you’re still flying JetBlue, and that’s kind of how this shook out for me.  The ground services at LAX (and soon to be at SFO) are outright terrible, and the boarding process at both LAX and JFK were a clusterf—k.

If the trip report sounds negative, I don’t want it to.  For the value, it’s an unbeatable product.  And the service blows away that of other carriers. Ultimately, I’m glad I flew Mint and would honestly probably fly them again at that price point – and would certainly recommend that seat to others.  To fly in a Suite with a closing door and an incredible amount of privacy is a true luxury on an American airline – and for $599, a no-brainer.  I mean, really, Mint is spectacular in so many ways, and puts the legacy carriers to shame.  But here’s the giant caveat: you’re still flying JetBlue, and JetBlue has a very, very long way to go before they can truly win over the premium market.  So much of the premium transcon LAX-JFK route is about high expectations, and JetBlue at this point simply isn’t prepared to meet all of them. It’s hard for an airline like JetBlue, whose identity is so grounded in being egalitarian and casual-traveler-friendly, to make the leap into extreme luxury, because it is a complete 180 degrees from 14 years of heavy branding.  So basically, if you go in knowing all this, and knowing to expect ground services on par with Vietnam Airlines and a clientele who all apparently bought their tickets on Groupon, then I say: enjoy your seat, because it’s amazing, and it’s doubtful it will stay $599 for very long.  When you settle down in your suite, and close that door, you can almost imagine you’re not flying with the entire cast of Breaking AmishDuck Dynasty and Jersey Shore behind – and in front of! – you.

So what I’m really saying is, if Mint were Virgin America’s new premium product, it would be perfection.

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Comments

  1. I liked the review a lot. lots of really good descriptive info. and very entertaining and funny

  2. You know, it is entirely possible the Duck Dynasty guy was actually a celebrity from a Duck Dynasty-type reality show who was traveling for show biz business. I once saw a bunch of people who fit that profile at a touristy restaurant in New York and assumed they were from middle America but instead they were talking about “ratings in the demo”, “what is TLC going to launch next”, etc. etc.

    And overall, while I agree that JetBlue certainly would be new to the idea of enforcing boarding priority, etc., I fly JetBlue occasionally and have never noticed any significant difference in the type of passengers who fly them from any other domestic airline (except that maybe on other domestic airlines, I am likely to be up front with the elites, whereas on JetBlue I’m in coach among the masses). When you fly NY-Florida you are with the same clientele regardless of whether you’re on B6, AA, DL, or UA, other than that the (small by percentage of the total) elite frequent flyers are probably on one of the latter three and not on B6.

    And similarly, people marveling at nice business class seats is hardly restricted to the coach passengers on B6. I hear that all the time on other airlines.

  3. @BGriff, you make good points. I think the key is that B6 does have a strong foothold at JFK and especially in the JFK-Florida market (which is largely leisure-heavy, anyway) and the differences between the clientele of the airlines might not be as strong. On the transcon route, however, there is so much competition that there really is a marked difference and B6 takes on (at least in my experience, on multiple flights from BUR-JFK as well) the feeling of Frontier or Spirit.

    And it’s one thing for coach passengers to glance at the folks up front with envy or even a comment or two, but the Mint seats are novel enough that they attract LOTS of attention. People peering into the suites. Pointing. Saying loudly, “how’d they get THOSE?” Which is not their fault, but on the majority of the mainline carriers the economy passengers make a right after boarding and the premium passengers make a left on the transcon routes. I’m not advocating for class-based apartheid, but when you pay for privacy and discretion, not having 143 passengers walking past you is part of meeting those expectations.

  4. I flew JetBlue Mint during its first week (bought it back in September when they had a promo for $499 each way) and had an overall positive experience. The FAs were all enthusiastic and provided service that was better than I’ve ever experienced in Virgin America, United, and Delta.

    Also, I felt the catering was definitely a notch higher than any of the other legacy carriers and Virgin America. Then again, I may be biased since I live in New York City and love the restaurant, Saxon + Parole (which caters Jetblue’s Mint product.)

    In addition, when I flew the product, I didn’t think the passengers were any different from the legacy carriers. Some looked like business travelers, some leisure. It was good to have your point of view but I really wish Lucky travelled with you so we can read his version.

    Lucky, perhaps it may be better to only publish friends’ trip reports on your blog who are on the same trips as you (i.e. Tiffany’s Lufthansa trip report and Andy’s 90k trip report were AWESOME.) By doing so, it’s a great way to compare your perspective with theirs (plus the photos may be better.) 😉 Nonetheless, I appreciated NIck’s sense of humour in regards to RHONYC. Hmm perhaps the only item missing on the Mint flight is Ramona’s pinot? lmao

  5. I’m don’t particularly enjoy flying JetBlue largely given the fact that I don’t have priority boarding or seating but I didn’t notice anything particularly terrible about the clientele compared to some other airlines on my trips – though I fly from Boston, where the discount traveler crowd is largely students rather than inexperienced tourists.

    In fact, I find the descriptions of your flight companions to more accurately apply to literally every US Airways flight I’ve ever taken… Yikes! Southwest is rather hit or miss on the typical passenger as well.

    Either way – entertaining and informative review.

  6. flew the LAX-JFK redeye on the new AA 321 F last week and it was the first time i’ve done a CA-NY redeye and actually slept real, honest, deep sleep. so if Mint can offer that same or similar hard product for a lower price, i’m sold. i don’t care about the food or IFE or if the fellow pax wear neon fanny packs and beehive hairdos. just get me my sleep so i can hit the ground in NY running.

    great review!

  7. So – now you know you shouldn’t fly jetBlue again. And those of us that will continue flying them will be all the more thankful for it. I personally will take them over Delta, UA or Virgin Australia/Atlantic/Australia anytime of the day.

  8. @pavel — Yes, I do think you can get a great night’s sleep on the redeye in a Mint suite. The only factor that might lie in AA’s favor is the timing of the flights — JetBlue has only one redeye, and it is scheduled to leave just before 9pm and land around 5am, New York time. Personally, I would find it a bit harder to get a good night’s sleep on that schedule versus, say, American’s 9:55pm (arriving JFK @ 6:30am) and 11:30pm (arriving @ 8am) departures, but that’s just me. If the timing of the JetBlue flight doesn’t bother you, I say it’s a no brainer, especially if you want to just decline the meal service and go to sleep immediately.

  9. People marveling at your premium seat? Well, I’m a US and AS elite, so nobody’s stopping to marvel at my digs. I’d suggest that people doing so is a good sign. 🙂

    Otherwise, B6 fares aren’t really any more or less competitive than other carriers. It’s the same people flying any other domestic product. The only exception might be VX, but they’re not competitive on price, schedule or elite benefits in my region (New England) so I don’t really fly them.

  10. Ben – So great of you to offer Nick a guest-review. Great perspective.
    Nick – Sometimes, reviewers can really get lost in their wit and humor and try (too hard) to draw attention to themselves, but ultimately end up flat on their face. You, however, did NOT. Outstanding review! (And, btw Ben – that is absolutely no reflection on you, either!). Nick had great perspective on the pros and cons and his descriptions left any judgement up to our own. The one exception to this is this little gem, which I’m still LMAO over: (From the part about the amenity kits):
    “Well, it’s useless, sorry.”
    Priceless.

    I also got from this that, apparently, I’m missing all the fun of Real Housewives. Haven’t watched a single episode and am feeling like a little girl whose parents haven’t taken her to see Frozen yet while all her friends talk about it.

  11. In fact, I find the descriptions of your flight companions to more accurately apply to literally every US Airways flight I’ve ever taken…

    Exactly.

  12. Thanks for all of your kind words, folks! I was a bit apprehensive about writing something for the blog, so I’m glad to know it wasn’t a total dud.

    @AWTY — you’re of course spot-on that B6’s fares aren’t any different (nor are any low cost carrier’s, really, save for maybe Spirit?), but for 14 years it aggressively branded itself as a low-cost, all-coach airline and to an extent the reputation stuck. After all, if you’re a leisure traveler paying for coach with no brand loyalty, you’d probably want to fly the airline that boasts a free checked bag, free live TV and free snacks. At heart, and in its advertising certainly, it has tried to position itself as the airline for non-elites. Which is why the whole idea of putting in a best-in-class cabin is so discordant (to me). It’s like they’re going for the extreme ends of the
    market.

    @ptahcha — just my own taste! I’m sure Argyle has its fans and it isn’t actively bad (unlike, cough cough, Andre or Cook’s or Ben’s favorite, Duc de Paris)… it certainly has its boosters. It’s just got a totally different flavor profile than champagne, prosecco, cava et al. I preferred the red, personally!

    @Kelly — thank you, I’m blushing! I should mention a lot of online reviews actually *love* the Birchbox kit, so I could definitely be in the minority. But to me it felt like an intrusive advertisement for Birchbox, and an aggressive campaign to encourage Mint patrons to sign up for Birchbox’s services, more than a helpful kit for the Mint patron. I’ve no doubt they entered into some sort of joint-marketing agreement with Birchbox and paid very little for the kits out of pocket. Which, I mean, none of the other airlines typically offer amenity kits to begin with on transcon flights, so it’s not unwelcome, but it’s also a bit chintzier than the straightforward, utterly useful kits you’d get flying internationally. I don’t need my mouthwash to be artisinal and hipster, I just need it to get rid of bad breath!

    Thanks again, you guys!

  13. Thanks for this review! Me and my brother are flying the LAX – JFK Mint class suites this Friday… this just makes us even more excited. I bought these seats over using my American miles because at $599 a pop, it’s too great not to pass up. Maybe I’ll save my American miles for a trip to Australia. Thanks Lucky!!!

  14. @Matt – ha! Brooks Brothers Black Fleece, though it’s a couple years old, so I’m not sure it’s available anymore.

  15. FWIW – if you ask the attendants on Cathay to lower the temperature in F they will. I progressively got them to lower it to 19C once.

  16. Any clue if JetBlue has plans to expand this to other routes/cities (e.g. WAS)? Or are they just doing it on NY-LA for now?

  17. @ James — As of now I believe the plan is just JFK-LAX/SFO. I’m guessing they’re evaluating the performance and will decide from there.

  18. Great trip report Nick! Quick question for you, Ben or anyone else who can comment. I am flying mint with my partner in November. Was thinking about the suites but thought I remember reading somewhere that they have noticeably less room for your feet than the double mint seats so I was leaning against them. Did you notice? Anyone know if the the difference is significant? Thanks!

  19. @Tom — thanks! I actually recall reading, as well, that the two-abreast seats offered better footwell space than the Suites. I can’t actually speak to whether the footwells in the two-abreast seats are bigger (they could be), but I can say that the footwells in the Suites were NOT cramped. In fact, they were really quite ample. Maybe Ben can post the photo of the footwell (though it wasn’t taken in full recline) I sent him so you can see there’s TONS of space. In lie-flat bed mode it wasn’t an issue at all, and I can’t imagine it would be unless you and your partner were each 6 foot 8 with size 16 feet. It’s definitely bigger than the footwells on United P.S. (my main point of comparison here).

    When the bed is lie-flat, it actually feels quite low to the ground, and it’s the widest of any domestic lie flat seat. Having the door and the extra storage space around you really adds to the sense of privacy and gives a feeling that you’re not on an airplane, so for me personally, it was quite conducive to sleep and relaxation. I would *strongly, strongly* recommend that you two get Suites provided 2 are available across from each other and they remain at the same price point. (If two Suites are not available consecutively, it still may be worth booking — since once those doors are closed you’re in your own world anyway — but that’s certainly up to any couple and their comfort factor with not being seated contiguously.)

    Enjoy the flight! And don’t order the beet gnudi!

  20. @mark– bathrooms are nothing fancy. On both flights (I am almost certain we had the same plane, since my TV in 2A on both legs had the same diagonal scratch on it) the soap bottle in the bathroom was detached from its base and flying around loose, which I thought was a little odd for a brand new plane and should definitely have been fixed 2 days later on the return leg. Otherwise, toilet, sink, the usual.

  21. No Andrew guest post, but overall a funny and informative review.

    I do think you went a bit far with the lifestyle criticisms though. Point taken that JetBlue operationally doesn’t give elites good treatment and that their interior configuration doesn’t either, but I felt you pushed things a bit too far past that. I imagine if the situation was reversed and the bearded flyover state guy was blogging about the gay left-coasters on his VA flight he wouldn’t be so well received.

  22. @Sunrise089, fair point and point well taken. I tried to toe the line between expressing my feelings about Mint while acknowledging my own bias and trying to respect the views and feelings of others. I guess my gut reaction was not against the bearded flyover state guy qua bearded flyover state guy, but it was twofold (one reaction is defensible, the other less so):

    (1) Politics, dress, personal grooming aside, since that doesn’t matter — a lot of the folks on my flight, and in Mint, were newbies unaccustomed to flying generally. Struggling with the overhead bin, unclear of the TSA Pre-Check concept, in general, slowing things down for those of us who fly rather more frequently. Ultimately, it does no real harm, but it affects the travel experience.

    (2) Flying first class, and paid first class especially, brings with it a certain aspirational aura every reader of this blog is familiar with. There’s a romance and sophistication to “first class,” even if airline deregulation and post 9/11 aviation have chipped away at its core, and a product like Mint is meant to capitalize on that emotion and that desire to fly “in style.” Sorry, and I realize this makes me a snob, but the clientele is a major part of that. These were not well dressed professionals.

    You know, the thing was, I flew a Friday night redeye and a Sunday evening return. Neither of them business routes.

  23. Some of the biggest slobs you see these days are in premium cabins. Shorts and flip flops and whatnot. And they tend to be seasoned FF.

  24. I was LOL when you talked about many not having service beyond Aeroflot! LOL LOL LOL…so funny. I took American’s new Prem. Trans-con last week, it was nice, but I mean 4K for a 2,500-mile seat. And I certainly have not seen many stars on AA’s Premium Trans-Con lately. The purser was bragging abut the $ they are making. I told him that as an EXEC. PLAT. I found all the rule changes on 4.8 deplorable, and striping away at our benefits. The lady flight attendant, who said she knows a lot of EXP’s, said she had been hearing the same thing. Needing to be Concierge Key to talk to RDU reservations center, where the avg. tenure is close to 10 years, not 10 months, just is NOT acceptable.

    But I divert, this sounds like an excellent product and you review was very humorous. However, since I live in Miami, I rarely take this route anymore, and remember the days of the DC-10’s on American and caviar, lobster tail salads and chateaubriand, slicked to order. Those were true premium trans-con days.

  25. Sounds like someone who was looking for their Netjets plane got lost and ended up on a Jetblue flight. If a guest poser is going to repeatedly mock other passengers with this much enthusiasm it’s only fair that they should post images of themselves sitting in the seat so that the rest of us can see how well they live up to their own pompous standards.

  26. Why didn’t you grab the mic and pronounce, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is the Countess speaking, We have arrived!”

    Aside from being temporarily disgusted by your husband’s dislike of a deviled egg – I mean come on! – it was a great review, snarky, perceptive, and informative. Thanks for sharing!

  27. JetBlue is currently awaiting approval to use the middle door for boarding, to allow for the traditional first-class to the left, coach to the right boarding experience. It’s taking some time, since they have to be able to ensure that the jet bridge doesn’t damage the engines. Hopefully, they can get this done by January 2015, when I’m taking Mint from LAX-JFK. Having coach pax walk through the premium cabin is annoying, and interferes with the pre-takeoff service.

  28. It’s funny cause my Mint flight last night was a star-studded event. actresses, singers, well known movie producers and directors, and some big wig in the fashion industry. Two of them said they were sold and never flying VX again lol

  29. I appreciate the very funny and honest review. Can’t wait to try the product. But as someone who flies both JetBlue and Virgin quite often, I’m a bit disappointed that my Virgin experiences aren’t as chock full of the beautiful and fabulous people that are missing from the reviewer’s JetBlue flights. Once I walk past first class, it feels or looks no different than a JetBlue or southwest flight. $99 fares will get you the same customers regardless of product.

  30. Thanks for the review, very entertaining and balanced. I’m very interested in the Mint product, and at 2-3x the price of coach, I would expect those seats full on every flight. I’d like to give it a try, and if I do, I’ll make sure to board last. As long as there’s space for my bags, there’s no point in getting on first.

    Unfortunately, Jet Blue is really good at introducing services at a great price, then jacking it up a little while later (remember the $300 transcon round trip?). I fully expect Mint to cost the same as domestic 1st class by next summer.

  31. “flying Mint didn’t actually feel all that rarefied. And maybe that’s a good thing, bringing First Class to the masses. A recent emigre from Eastern Europe was on the seat in front of me on the way out, marveling to everyone that he had bought his seat for “only $250” (unclear if it was a buy-up, if he bought through a consolidator, or if he was just lying) and offering cash to the flight attendant for his vodka, and, well, let’s just say he wasn’t the only one in the cabin who had never flown premium (or anything but Aeroflot) before. And I know I sound like a dick when I say that. And I truly am glad that Mint is in the grasp and reach of far more people, and that premium seats can now be purchased outright instead of had only by virtue of mileage awards, Platinum status or generous employers. But… there was a guy in full-on Duck Dynasty gear on my return flight. And a portly gentleman with a neck tattoo of Jesus. And just generally, the feeling on board JetBlue is that it is an airline for the masses”

    Gosh. You are an incredible snob!!! I thought your condescending nasty proclamation about the great unwashed suggests you ought to go buy a Gulfstream and live happily ever after without ever having to deal with people, any people, but for exceptional ones like you.

    “But our flight might as well have been Orlando to Wichita. JetBlue, moreso than other domestic airlines, feels a bit like a bus, frankly.”

    And this sentence makes me think you are one of the great unwashed from Russia since it is not English. Ben: if English is your 3rd or 4th language, you are very good at it. If English is your native tongue, you should take daily showers and a remedial English class with a teacher who has a ruler to rap your knuckles after horrible sentences like this one!

  32. Hi, I’m taking a flight this summer from BOS-JFK-LAX in jetBlue’s Mint Cabin with my Dad and sister. I was wondering; now I’m only 14 and my sister is 12, so will they know our age before they start setting cocktails and champagne on the trays? It would just be REALLY awkward if that actually were to happen lol.

  33. @ Matthew — Presumably if you’re nowhere close to 21 they won’t proactively offer cocktails. I’m sure there won’t be anything awkward about it. Enjoy the flight!

  34. Love the fact that “MK” two posts above this one was seeking out reviews of Mint before his flight! A budding trip reviewer! And I’m willing to bet Lucky was right, that you weren’t accidentally offered any alcohol. 😉

  35. Hmm…I’ve always wondered do some of these reviewers just have bad luck? Or are they accustomed to something different? I’ve fly JetBlue frequently and it’s the one airline that I’ve NEVER had an issue with regard to boarding. And agents will send customers back who were trying to board before the zoning they called. I took Delta to Atlanta not too long ago, and it was the first time I had taken Delta in years and it was massive chaos, namely because they overbook. To each their own…

  36. Flew today and the experience hasn’t changed much from this review. No signed cards from the staff but attentive service. Same 3 small dish dinner, same mint cocktail.
    The thing that traps it at a 500 dollar price point is the procession of 95% of the passengers through the mint section, still goggle eyed after what 2 years? Not quite as awkward as fine dining on the orient express stopped at a station while a train full of Thais hanging out of the 3rd class carriages stares hungrily at your food, but close.
    And the aforementioned lax terminal. Chaos indeed. Having to pay 35 bucks to get into the virgin lounge shaved off the premium feeling from mint.
    The suites are not really suites as both left and right you are conscious of the coffins enclosing the lower legs of the row behind, you can’t easily gaze out of the window, and the partitions are low.
    The seats are still hard cold JetBlue leatherette, “massage” is a weird hiss of air inflating and deflating — but the lie flat option is definitely the way to fly.
    Back at baggage at jfk and if the mint bags are supposed to come off first it didn’t happen for us. A 30 minute wait at the carousel for ones suitcase to appear randomly with everyone elses, well that isn’t a first class experience either.
    The price is amazing, but it sure isn’t the first class of the type that attempts to mimic a private jet. You are paying for a lie flat seat. That’s mostly it.

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