New York-based JetBlue Airways has made a name for itself in the one-service, low-fare category. It expanded its appeal with the launch of Mint, its innovative premium class of service.
Billed as "Coast-to-Coast Without the Cost," Mint debuted in June 2014 on the industry's premium domestic route: New York (JFK) to Los Angeles (LAX). New York to San Francisco (SFO) came on line in October 2014.
Since then, the concept has met with broad-based success.
In the 2015, the airline annoucned plans to expand Mint in its Boston (BOS) focus city and on select routes to the Caribbean from both New York and Boston.
As of November 2015, Mint is available on routes between John F. Kennedy International Airport and Aruba and Barbados. That makes JetBlue the only American carrier with lie-flat seating to operate regularly scheduled service to the Caribbean.
Mint service is available between Boston and Los Angeles/San Francisco as of 2016.
Additionally, seasonal Mint seasonal service between Boston and Barbados will begin in March 2016.
So, how does JetBlue plan to provide a premium front-of-cabin experience that's deluxe without being stuffy?
Here's what's in store for passengers.
Arrive in Mint Condition
Brand-new Airbus A321 aircraft have been outfitted with exclusive Thompson Aero Seating. Sixteen lie-flat seats will transform by the touch of a button into beds that are 6’ 8” long. That's the longest in the domestic US market.
Mint seats are 20.7” wide.
What's more, four Mint Suite seats are 22.3” wide. They're single seat options located in private suites with a closeable door. It's the only such suite in the US market.
The configuration of the Mint cabin will be 2-2 in rows 1, 3 and 5. Rows 2 and 4 will feature the 1-1 private suites.
Seats will also feature air cushions that can be adjusted for firmness; a massage function; shoe storage; "wake for service" button and dual 110 volt outlets with two USB ports. A 15-inch screen will deliver up to 100 DirecTV channels and more than 100 SiriusXM radio stations.
For a computer-generated video of the new Mint experience on JetBlue, click here.
Mint-style service begins with early boarding and expedited security (where available). Passengers will enjoy a pre-departure signature "Refresh-Mint" limeade cocktail and amuse-bouche once airborne. And dining promises to garner high marks as well. Passengers can choose from an array of small-plate menu items developed in partnership with New York City's Saxon + Parole restaurant. Full-bottle wine service and other alcoholic beverages are complimentary.
After the meal, passengers can choose organic desserts by Blue Marble Ice Cream and a sweet treat from Mah-ze-Dahr Bakery. Espresso drinks will follow as well, from the first purpose-built cappuccino machine on a domestic airline.
Another Mint twist: male and female amenity kits. They're being created by Birchbox, the popular discovery platform for beauty, grooming and lifestyle products.
JetBlue makes no bones about its competitive strategy. The carrier is hoping to ensnare passengers currently paying higher prices for premium service. Introductory rates started at $499 and $599 each way will clearly go a long way toward accomplishing that goal.
In announcing the product in the fall of 2013, JetBlue president and CEO Dave Barger noted that Min would fill an under-served niche. That is, the "customer who wants to enjoy first-rate service at an exceptional and affordable fare."
He added, "We believe Mint is better than other airlines’ first and business class service, and with fares that make it accessible to everyone, we think Mint will become the obvious choice for customers flying across the country."
In addition to the Mint configuration, JetBlue's new Airbus A321's will feature enhancements to the carrier's core product. They include new seat design, larger personal screens with power outlets and a drink holder.
Passengers on the New York-Los Angeles/San Francisco routes will also enjoy the marketplace. That's a self-serve station filled with snacks, soft drinks and water. It's open throughout the flight.
Another perk for all passengers: free Fly-Fi, the next generation of super-fast Wi-Fi that promises download speeds equal to those on the ground.
The line's will operate a sub-fleet 11 A321 aircraft by early 2015.