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First Impressions of JetBlue Mint, Now Flying Coast-to-Coast

June 16, 2014 at 9:17 AM | by | ()

After many months of coy reveals and growing anticipation, JetBlue's first premium seats have hit the skies. Named Mint, the cabin is now available on flights between JFK and LAX, and coming to JFK-SFO in October.

Ahead of the inaugural flight yesterday, JetBlue hosted a trial run on the ground at JFK. For this, we sent a JetBlue flyer who'd never seen the seats before and had an "empty slate" for first impressions.

There's a new plane on the tarmac at New York-JFK Airport, and it's shiny inside as well as out. We're talking about the brand-spankin-new Airbus A321s coming to JetBlue, and their "Mint" cabin of fully flat leather seating. The first of them, appropriately named It’s Mint to Be, is one of the 11 Mint-configured A321s due to be delivered to JetBlue in 2014.

Onboard impressions

The first thing passengers may notice upon arriving at a Mint seat is the width of the seat itself, which is 22.3” compared to Economy's 17.8". Crave a little more room? After take off, the armrests can be slid down into the seat base for increased scotch-about room, and improved aisle access.

Next comes the shock of legroom. This pleasant surprise doesn't take hold until you sit down and settle in, since the bulk of foot-wiggle space is tucked away under the seat in front. Whenever possible, aim to book the "Suite" solo seats found in rows 2 and 4, of which there are 4 total. Fundamentally they are little rooms of their own, thanks to the privacy of a sliding door. The "walls" of the Suite seat aren't high enough to completely encase you in perfect privacy, but they're definitely appreciated when it comes time for sleep or focusing on getting some work done on the plane's Fly-Fi in-flight WiFi.

Perks of Mint

It's not just a fully flat seat and more personal space in a premium cabin. Flying in Mint means complimentary access to the "Even More Speed" expedited security lane at JFK, a Birchbox amenity kit, and a full, hot meal plus drinks.

Time to eat

The new Mint menu, developed in partnership with NYC's Saxon + Parole restaurant, features surprisingly filling options offered tapas-style. The meals in Mint are complimentary, and passengers choose 3 of the 5 entree dishes on the menu. Make room on your tray table, as these are served in addition to a starter (Chilled Corn Soup for July) and dessert (fresh fruit and organic ice cream for July). For our lunch tasting, we ordered up the Black Angus Burger, Burrata Cheese Ravioli, and Long Island Duck & Pistachio Galantine. Also offered in the July lunch options were Portobello Mushroom Mouse and Shrimp & Mascarpone Grits.

Speaking of the tray table and meals, it's here we had our only nitpicky issue with the Mint seat. The tray table comes up out of the armrest and swings down into place. Once deployed, it will only swivel 90 degrees with no in-out slide. This has the potential to annoy passengers of size. It's bothersome, but definitely not enough to derail the entire experience.

Back to the tasty details, we dived into the drinks menu. Mint offers a selection of wine, liquor and beer, including Brooklyn Brewery’s Summer Ale. Personally, we most enjoyed their signature cocktail crafted with honey, lime, vodka, and a mint sprig garnish.

In conclusion

The literal upgrade from JetBlue's standard Economy to Mint is truly incredible, but even if you don't care a lick for the tiny details, pay attention to the price. The cost of flying Mint begins at $599 for a one-way trip across the country, which is less than half what JetBlue's competitors charge for their own transcon Business Class.

The lower price combined with higher regard for passenger comfort and an imaginative approach to in-flight meals means JetBlue isn't just beckoning to business travelers, but opening the door to premium travel for casual flyers who may never have had a chance to sit in Business or First. In other words, Mint is about to spoil domestic flyers rotten. Get in on it.

[Photos: Steven Drescher for Jaunted]

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