Flying Transcon: JetBlue Mint A321 BOS-SEA-BOSplus a short JetBlue E190 segment, BOS-PHL
Background: The most unique premium product flying in the United States today is JetBlue Mint, a top product which includes flat-bed seats, some in a 1-1 suite configuration with individual doors, special tapas-style dining with a variety of small plates, in-flight entertainment, and even free WiFi...all offered at a better price than the competition. JetBlue Mint disrupted the premium travel market when it was introduced on the typical transcon routes JFK-LAX and JFK-SFO, and other carriers began matching JetBlue's discount fares. The product was a success, and JetBlue continues to expand the offering to additional routes, such as my flight on the BOS-SEA route, which occurred one year ago. I was very interested in trying out such a unique offering, and intentionally avoided researching the details in advance so I could go in sight-unseen and be surprised. In the end JetBlue Mint became my #1 favorite domestic flight, so I fit a second Mint flight into my upcoming travel plans. My second Mint flight was this month on the return route BOS-SEA. Please enjoy the reports, and I look forward to your comments.
JetBlue B6 597
Departure: 06:38 (actual 06:38)
Arrival: 09:51 (actual 10:16)
Actual Block Time: 6h38
Actual Flight Time: 6h3
Seat: 4F Mint
I've flown on the JetBlue E190 on two separate flights, enjoyable short sub-1h flights between Philly and Boston. But now it's my first time flying their Mint Class, arguably the most interesting Business Class product flying domestically. I was very excited to try JetBlue Mint, and since I hadn't researched it in advance, I was looking forward to a completely new experience.
I got to BOS Terminal C very early, and the Mint check-in counter opened at around 03:30. I checked in at 04:00, naturally in-person with an agent. I enjoyed the interaction, where the agent addressed me by name, something uncommon during a check-in. I received a cardstock boarding pass. Precheck was not open so early in the morning, but I was invited to use the JetBlue Even More Speed
security lane, where Precheck benefits were in place anyway. I headed to Gate C5, all the way at the end of the C Concourse, where each gate is marked as C and also E - C for domestic and E for international departures. I was sequence 001 and also the first person at the gate. I had a seat at the gate at 04:20. Boarding was set for 05:53, and departure for 06:38.
Sitting at the gate, I was quite tired, but keeping my excitement up for the flight. I then heard an unusual announcement: Today's flight isn't full, in fact it's a pretty light load, so gate-checking of carry-on bags will not be required on today's flight!
And there were still Mint seats available: For more information on these seats see me at the desk.
Pre-boarding commenced on time, then the first boarding group for Mint or Mosaic. I walked through a very long series of halls and jetbridges to my waiting A321.
What a beautiful cabin, very modern and stylish. The odd rows 1/3/5 offer 2-2 flat-bed seats, and the even rows 2/4 offer 1-1 flat-bed seats in a suite configuration complete with door. My seat was 4F, a suite seat. First impression? Excellent, a beautiful seat and very spacious. My seat was stocked with a pillow and blanket, Hayward amenity kit, bottled water, and a Welcome to Mint
note signed by the two Mint flight attendants, one of whom immediately arrived to welcome me aboard. Upon hearing it was my first time in Mint, she proceeded to explain all the features of the seat: the very large side table to my right near the windows, and another to my left near the aisle, complete with three electrical outlets and USB... the seat controls, including the full-flat bed function - and it's a massage chair! ... a wake-me light so as to ensure you're woken up for upcoming service... the IFE remote, or simply use the touchscreen... the operation of the tray table and suite door. And the presentation of the menu, where it was explained to pick three of five selections. A headset was provided, and then a pre-departure beverage was offered. I was encouraged to try a Bloody Mary or a mimosa - a mimosa it is. The seat had a much larger footwell than I had expected, a good size touchscreen, and a large storage compartment. It was a comfortable seat, very well-designed, and by far a leading seat operating regularly in the domestic US, competitive even to modern international Business Class! And so far, incredible service with the flight attendant spending several minutes with each passenger going over everything. The mimosa was quickly delivered and delicious, and even had a garnish. I was definitely feeling awake now, and really excited for this flight.
Two of the three electrical outlets:
Third electrical outlet and water bottle storage:
As announced at the gate, there were indeed available Mint seats. The load was only 11/16. Flight attendants proactively went to those people seated in the 2-2 seats to offer them the opportunity to move to the available 1-1 suites and have no seatmate; nobody accepted, but again, top-notch service.
A welcome message introduced the cabin crew and advised a 5h55 flight time. A manual safety demo followed, and we pushed back on time. Among the usual departure announcements, one stood out: the WiFi is complimentary!? And Amazon Prime members can sign-in to watch all the Prime programming. Now I don't really use inflight WiFi, but I was very impressed that it's free. And too bad I'm not a Prime member. I really didn't see any negatives so far in the JetBlue Mint experience. Some say JetBlue has poor IRROPS handling, but today we pushed exactly on time. In my suite seat with the great pre-departure service, I felt like I was beginning an intercontinental Business Class flight on a top airline, but I was just on a domestic LCC flight paying a lot less than other carriers' standard domestic offerings. Really incredible.
We had a quick taxi to takeoff at 06:51. It was a pretty quiet takeoff with pretty good speed. As we cleared 10,000 feet, the flight attendant stopped by to offer to get me something out of the overhead, and then to shut my door. I guess you might as well shut it if you have it. I reclined to relax mode under the blanket because it was nice and cold onboard. And I was charging my phone on one of my infinite power ports.
Relaxing, door closed:
Service began with hot towels. I examined the menu to put together my custom meal order. The five breakfast offerings were Fresh Fruit
- watermelon, honeydew, pineapple, papaya; Acai Yoghurt Parfait
- greek yoghurt, tropical fruit, chia seeds, granola; Grilled & Chilled Avocado
- with warm scrambled eggs and pepita salsa; Plum Clafoutis
- poached plums, crème fraîche, candied almonds; and Potato Roesti
- poached egg, ham, cheddar, aji amarillo aioli, poblano feta salsa. I was invited to select three (the fresh fruit, avocado, and plum), plus a side of chicken sausage. And to drink, a mimosa again. The mimosa was served first, along with the welcome pastry, a warm cranberry twist - quite a tasty start. My first movie was Spinning Man
, a recent thriller with Guy Pearce, Pierce Brosnan and Minnie Driver.
Mimosa and welcome pastry:
I took a restroom break, opening my suite door to go to one of the two nearby lavatories, either at the front or rear of the cabin. And I got to enjoy another feature I hadn't thought of until now: direct aisle access in the suites. After the lav I decided to leave the door open for meal service. The door did actually contribute quite a bit to the highly private feeling of the suite. Of course a 1-1 configuration is private as it is, but the door really takes it to a new level.
Breakfast was served with excellent presentation, and it was an incredible meal, with all three dishes excellent and delicious, and even the fruit perfectly ripe with perfect flavor. The avocado dish was definitely a top airplane meal for me ever. There was really no comparison to a typical domestic meal service.
I finished the movie with under 3.5h to go, as we were re-entering US airspace from Canada into Minnesota. It was a good movie, but I had begun falling asleep. I decided to take a nap for an hour. I woke up as we were entering Montana. Fresh water bottles were delivered. Unfortunately we now had only 1.5h to go, which was not enough time for a second movie. Instead I began listening to Sirius XM 90s on 9, another unique feature of JetBlue, which conveniently could be played simultaneously while watching the moving map. In total the IFE on offer included streaming to your device, on-demand seatback IFE, Sirius XM radio, live DirecTV, and Amazon Prime streaming for members.
The snack basket was brought out next and and a new round of drinks was offered. I considered a new mimosa, because they had been really good, but decided to sample the JetBlue craft beers. A craft beer enthusiast, I always enjoy seeing which unique beer offerings are available on each airline. I began with Brooklyn Lager.
JetBlue Mint Craft Beer #1:
A pre-arrival hot towel came, and perhaps I'd want a new beer? I ordered the Sam Adams... Is the oktoberfest OK? That's perfect. I really like Brooklyn Lager, a unique onboard choice, but I love a seasonal beer on a plane! I also requested the special cookie I had seen on the menu, which of course had a good presentation, a cookie in a box!? I thoroughly enjoyed the Sam Adams Oktoberfest, perhaps not the world's best Oktoberfest beer, but still good, and the delicious cookie, a perfect pre-arrival snack.
JetBlue Mint Craft Beer #2:
As I finished the Oktoberfest, it seemed like the aircraft was starting to descend. My flight attendant arrived to ask if I'd like one more beer before landing. Nice, I have just enough time for the third and final craft beer, Lagunita 12th of Never Pale Ale. The other beers on offer were Bud Light, Heineken, and Angry Orchard Hard Cider. And it was time for the actual cookie service, because apparently they are given out pre-landing automatically, not only on-request like I had thought. No worries, I'll take a second cookie because the first one was so good!
JetBlue Mint Craft Beer #3:
The view from 4F:
I finished my final beer just as final descent was being announced. We flew right over Bellevue and within view of downtown Seattle on a beautiful clear sunny day.
We turned south, flew past SeaTac, made a U-turn, and landed to the north on 34L at 12:54. We had to hold short of 34C while no fewer than a dozen planes departed, whose liftoff point was right outside my window, making for great views. 34R was closed. We finally crossed the runway, only to find the terminal area blocked by the queue of departing aircraft. We joined that queue and finally got to gate B11 at 13:16, or 10:16 Pacific time. I was finally able to see that my A321 today had been N984JB, a young bird delivered to JetBlue in August, 2017. Here she is as she departed SeaTac after my flight:
And taking off out of SEA:
The JetBlue Mint experience reminded me a lot of Virgin America First Class - there was just something special about it. A stylish, modern cabin, unique meal presentation, and top-notch service. One of my top domestic flights was my Virgin America trip PHL-SFO-SEA. Of course Virgin America First Class is quickly being phased out in favor of a refreshed standard Alaska Airlines First Class. That means JetBlue Mint is now my new favorite domestic flight. There was quite simply nothing negative about it! The only suite seat in regular scheduled domestic service, incredible food with great presentation, the unique pick three of five small plates, a good beer selection, and really great service. And all the IFE including complimentary WiFi... It turns out I'll actually use it a little bit when it's free. JetBlue Mint is also now my second-longest flight for no miles, but in my view absolutely worth it, and overall, a really great experience.