It started on just a few routes, but JetBlue’s business class service, JetBlue Mint, is popping up everywhere. You’ll see these lie-flat seats on 15 routes now, including New York to San Diego; Fort Lauderdale to Los Angeles; and between New York and Boston and five Caribbean islands. And there are more coming soon to Seattle and Las Vegas. When it launched in 2014, Mint was described as a game-changer for domestic business class service — mostly for the price. Three years on, is it still delivering? Here’s a look.
What It Is, and What You’ll Get:
There’s a reason why JetBlue’s Mint has expanded so quickly across its fleet: it’s a great product. We got a chance to try it recently on a flight from San Diego to New York City, and the perks are significant. The handsomely designed lie-flat seat is sleeker and certainly newer than many of the lie-flat seats in use on Delta, United, or American Airlines these days. Plus, some Mint seats, which can be booked without additional cost, are “suites” with a door that fully closes for privacy. Guests receive priority access at security, baggage claim, and during boarding. There are meals that include faro salads, short ribs with polenta, and sweets from David Chang’s Milk Bar, plus a signature minty cocktail. It is, on the whole, among the most comfortable and pleasant domestic flying experiences available.
Three years ago, JetBlue became the first U.S. budget airline to offer a business class product. Prices for JetBlue Mint started at $599 each way -- a significant discount on other business class flights by the airline’s competitors. Now, however, with the service in full swing, JetBlue’s competitors including Delta and United have dropped the prices on their own domestic business class seats, some with lie-flat seats, so you’re less likely to find the savings in JetBlue Mint than you once could. Also, JetBlue Mint is popular. With its shiny new hardware, excellent food, and the airline’s approachable customer service, it’s no surprise that Mint seats sell fast, nudging up the price for anyone who doesn’t book far in advance. Can you still find those $599 seats? Yes, but you’ll often find them on only one leg of your itinerary, with the return trip going for a heftier $800-$900. You’ll easily find transcontinental business class flights, say between New York and San Francisco, on United or Delta for less. But the catch, on those airlines, is a big one: there’s often no guarantee of a lie-flat seat on every flight. In light of that, JetBlue Mint starts to look like a lot of other premium airline products: if you want more — and you’ll certainly get more on JetBlue Mint — you'll have to pay more.
What It Means for You:
We love that JetBlue ignited a kind of business class fare war on domestic routes. It’s made these tickets more affordable and challenged other airlines to improve their domestic business class products, and most of them answered. Delta, United, and American all now offer lie-flat seats on select transcontinental flights. But if you like flying JetBlue, JetBlue Mint has bigger implications for you. Mint was a step toward changing JetBlue from a domestic “budget carrier” with competition-obliterating fares to an airline that functions like other legacy domestic carriers -- down to its meal service and separate lines for customers who pay more. And in June, the company began discussing tentative plans to fly transatlantic flights. With JetBlue Mint in play, this could radically impact the price of business class seats on flights to Europe. Our wallets can’t wait.
The Bottom Line:
Though not the steal that it once was thanks to increased competition, JetBlue’s Mint service still delivers a great product for the price. Our recommendation: If you can’t find a round-trip fare that suits your budget, fly Mint one-way and regular economy the other.