JetBlue To Start Offering Mint Class To The Caribbean

Last year JetBlue did something pretty bold for an established low cost carrier by introducing a new premium cabin product between New York and Los Angeles/San Francisco. The new product is called Mint Class, and consists of 16 fully flat seats per Airbus A321 operating in the market.

JETBLUE AIRWAYS MINT PRIVATE SUITE

Here’s a review Nick wrote about the Mint Class offering between New York and Los Angeles.

They really shook up the market quite a bit, not only by offering a really competitive product, but also by undercutting the competition with their pricing.

JetBlue-Mint

There has been a lot of speculation about JetBlue expanding their Mint Class product on other routes, given that it has apparently performed well. Up until now, speculation has been that Mint Class would be expanded on more transcon flights, especially flights out of Boston.

Well, what’s not surprising is that Mint Class is officially expanding. What is surprising is the market in which it’s expanding — starting in November 2015, JetBlue will offer Mint Class between New York and the Caribbean.

Via The New York Times:

Beginning in November, Mint will be available on routes between John F. Kennedy International Airport and Aruba and Barbados, making JetBlue the onlyAmerican carrier with lie-flat seating to operate regularly scheduled service to the Caribbean.

Aruba and Barbados were chosen as the next Mint destinations mainly because they are traveler favorites. JetBlue has been tracking demand to the two islandsthrough not only its own passenger surveys, but alsodata from the Department of Transportation.

“We know those are two markets that have high-end leisure premium demand,” said Marty St. George, executive vice president of commercial and planning for JetBlue.

On the surface this is innovative on the part of JetBlue. Presumably they’ll not only be shaking up the market in terms of their reasonable premium cabin pricing, but they’ll also be shaking up the market by offering the only fully flat bed between New York and the Caribbean.

JetBlue-Mint

Unfortunately the further down in the article I got, the less exciting the new offering seemed. The Caribbean Mint Class service will initially be once weekly — Saturdays only — though it will operate daily over the peak holiday season:

Round-trip Mint service to each Caribbean destination will be offered once every Saturday on JetBlue’s Airbus A321 between Nov. 7 and April 30, 2016. During the holiday season, service will be more frequent, with Mint available once daily between Dec. 19 and Jan. 4, 2016.

There’s less premium transcon demand on Saturdays, so clearly they’re just using one of the idle transcon A321s for the service. That being said, long term I wouldn’t be surprised if the service is expanded, assuming the route performs well.

I think it’s sort of hard to gauge demand for a product with just once weekly service, though. Most “premium” customers aren’t going to travel somewhere for exactly a week, and if they truly have money to spend, chances are they’ll book an airline where they can get first class in both directions, rather than fly Mint Class in one direction and economy in the other (of course if they were smart they’d book JetBlue in one direction and another airline in the other direction, but that’s more thought than most people put into the travel planning process).

What do you think of this move by JetBlue — do you think they actually want to expand Mint Class service to the Caribbean long term, or is this simply a route on which to put idle A321s on off peak days?

Comments

  1. AA do offer lie-flat service to some destinations in the Caribbean… JFK-PAP operated with a refurbished 763 between five and seven days a week this winter (and certainly more often than this Mint service!)

    I also find the legacies tend to price the Caribbean competitively in premium cabins – they realize that many/most travellers in premium cabins are self-funding (not paying with OPM), and that keeps prices somewhat lower. It will be interested to see the effect of B6 entering these markets with Mint.

  2. Many Americans will not be aware of historical premium travel patterns.

    British Airways use to offer a weekly Concorde service from LHR-BGI (Barbados) that was fairly full, and profitable. This is aimed at rich retirees and those who can afford it and are not in a rush. Plus many folks are heading to these countries for longer than a few days.

    The A320s are probably packed, and the A321s haul more cargo, throw in premium seats and they will be sold.

    AA has used 3 class aircraft to BGI in the past, so a fight for premium passengers could break out. There is more to the caribbean premium market than many realize, plus you are looking at a 4 hour plus flight.

  3. I think it’s a good move. Both Aruba and Barbados are pretty far south which makes these 5 hour flights. They’ll fill that cabin especially with only a weekly frequency. Those are popular destinations for people with plenty of money who will fly out of JFK.

  4. I always thought the next Mint route would be JFK-BUR. It is a great route for Hollywood types. Aside for the convenient location, BUR is also a more low key airport than LAX and good fpr those who prefer to keep a low profile when out in public.

    There is also no competition on the route in any class of service.

  5. Thanks Ben.
    Can the SFO/JFK Mint class seats be booked with miles? If so, how many? Can I use Virgin Atlantic miles to book them?

  6. As you pointed out Ben, it’s clearly just a reallocation of idle A321T aircraft. I’m not sure I see the great benefit of Mint on Caribbean flights. Sure, who doesn’t prefer a flat bed? But for the most part, the leisure passenger just wants a cheap flight to the beach!

  7. @ David — You can redeem TrueBlue points. JetBlue has a revenue based program, so the cost in points is dependent upon the cost of the ticket in cash. You can’t redeem Virgin Atlantic miles for it.

  8. @Lucky
    Probably for those that like sitting on the beach for a full week

    Just a quick question, if any of your readers end up taking a Mint flight where would recommended banking the miles earned?

  9. Even if it’s only once weekly, I think this is great news! I flew on JetBlue Mint back in September and loved the experience. Then again, I may be biased since I’m a New Yorker and I felt JetBlue really put a lot of thought in its new product. I was hoping they’d expand the Mint offering to SEA-JFK route but I guess it doesn’t have the demand for it.
    I hope you fly it someday so we can read your review of it!

  10. @ No Name — The TrueBlue program actually isn’t half bad for domestic flights, in my opinion. Wouldn’t hesitate to credit there.

  11. Interesting choice of routes. If they limit it to some of those more upscale carribean destinations then this could be a hit. If they start putting Mint on flights to SJU, PUJ, NAS etc… they’re going to lose out big time.

  12. This is my first comment on this page. 😀 (I am a real fan @lucky LOL)
    Us Airways operates daily flight from PHL and CLT (on Saturdays and Sundays are twice daily) to SJU using their A300 with Envoy Class.
    San Juan is one of Jet Blue’s focus cities and would have been a great idea to have Mint on al least one of their flights to SJU from JFK. Although is not a long flight, San Juan receive lots of business travellers that would prefer a flat bed and actually start flying Jetblue.

  13. Will the improve their entertainment system for international flights in the Mint Class… Now they just play one movie on repeat during the duration of the flight…

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