- Flight: B61833 Boston Terminal C to San Francisco International
- Class: Mint (Business)
- Seats: 2A & 2F
- Aircraft Type: Airbus A321-200
- Aircraft Registration: N993JE
- Aircraft Age: 0.3 years
- Date: 14th July 2018
- Departure / Arrival: 10:50 / 14:28
- Flight Time: 6h 38m
- Cost: US$548.20 (S$740 approx.)
We booked this flight as part of our ’round the world in First Class’ trip last year, to get us from the east coast of the USA over to the west coast. It was the only sector on that trip where we cheated in two ways – it wasn’t a miles redemption and it wasn’t ‘First Class’, strictly speaking.
US low-cost airline JetBlue, which began flying in 2000 and quickly grew into a leading brand, first announced it would venture into the ‘premium cabin’ territory on selected coast-to-coast domestic flights in March 2013.
Details at the time were scant, but by September that year the airline surprised industry pundits by announcing Mint – a flat-bed Business Class product on Airbus A321 aircraft between New York and both Los Angeles and San Francisco, from July 2014.
It was seen as a big gamble for the airline, previously sticking to the traditional single-class, single aircraft type, low-cost model.
The Mint cabin on JetBlue’s A321 aircraft has 16 seats across five rows.
If you’re travelling as a couple and wish to be sociable, you’ll probably want to go for a pair of the ‘Mint seats’. These are the A/C or D/F options at rows 1, 3 and 5.
Solo travellers will definitely want to secure one of the four ‘Mint suites‘. These are at 2A, 2F, 4A and 4F.
There is no additional charge for the Mint suites despite the increased privacy, additional storage space and a closing door to screen your seat from the aisle. They are simply allocated on a first come, first served basis.
When Mint was first introduced, many predicted that JetBlue would eventually charge a premium for the suites, but they have never done so.
JetBlue has dedicated check in desks at Boston airport for its ‘Mosaic’ frequent flyers and passengers flying Mint Class.
We arrived at 9.20am to find a moderate queue for these desks, so we initially joined the back.
It became quickly apparent though that adjacent to these desks JetBlue has banks and banks of self check in kiosks, most of which weren’t being used, so we figured why not just check in there?
It was a good plan, with the help of a friendly agent who came over to see if we needed any assistance, we had our bags tagged and boarding cards printed in minutes.
As we headed to the security check point having deposited our tagged luggage at the bag drop desk, we glanced back at the Mint check in line to see it had barely moved – we would definitely still have been waiting.
Pleased with ourselves for checking in so quickly, the next step once through security when flying Business Class is usually to locate the airline lounge and settle in there for an hour or two before boarding.
Here’s where the JetBlue experience differs – this is still a low-cost airline, so no provision for lounge access arrangements is made, even for frequent flyers and Mint customers.
Of course we knew this in advance, and our Priority Pass got us access to the (aptly-named) ‘The Lounge’ near gate C19.
We didn’t have time to review this one, but it’s not bad. There was actually a decent selection of breakfast options and a good coffee machine, not to mention a nice view of the planes if that’s your thing.
Most importantly it was very quiet around 9am when we were there. The Priority Pass app even mentions that access may be restricted during the busy 4pm – 8pm period so bear that in mind.
Overall though it was nothing to be excited about. Don’t go out of your way at Boston Terminal C to spend time here.
An alternative option in this terminal if you have a Priority Pass is a US$28 food and beverage credit at Jerry Remy’s Sports Bar and Grill, between 2pm and 8pm each day. See what Ben at One Mile at a Time thought of it here.
We were welcomed on board by Heather and Amanda, the two crew members looking after the ‘Mint’ cabin for our flight. They leave a hand signed welcome card on each seat, which is a nice touch.
I settled into 2F, with Eddie choosing 2A.
The seat itself is charcoal soft leather, with subtle light blue stitching. It’s very comfortable and the firmness can also be adjusted.
If you’ve opted for one of the couple pairs the seats are slightly narrower, but still look very nice.
Each seat (or seat pair) has a transparent screen behind the head area, extending the divider between seat rows by about 20cm.
On photos this looks a bit pointless, but having seen it we both agreed it’s actually really clever and gives you a significant sense of additional privacy and shielding in your seat / suite, while maintaining a light airy feel in the cabin.
Heather came to welcome us on board, offering the menu and explaining the suite functions to us. She also asked if we’d like headphones in case we were planning to use the entertainment system, and whether we would be having lunch after takeoff.
A welcome drink is served, JetBlue’s signature ‘RefreshMint’. It’s honey-infused lime-aid, with lime, mint, and club soda. It’s available with or without vodka. We both decided it would nearly be lunchtime and so a little splash wouldn’t harm!
The drink itself is great, and indeed very refreshing. We don’t know why it is served in a plastic cup, which feels a bit cheap, but this is soon resolved after takeoff when the glassware comes out.
If like us you forget almost everything the flight attendant has told you about how your seat works within a few minutes, don’t worry. On JetBlue there is also a handy guide on the in-flight entertainment system.
The same information is provided for the ‘couple’ seats.
Effectively you’ve got everything you’d expect from a flat-bed Business Class seat in this Thompson Aero Vantage design, which has also been chosen by SilkAir / SIA for its upcoming single aisle Business Class product.
The Mint suite has plenty of storage space. At the side console between the seat and the aisle there is the ‘handbag stowage’, a large storage bin whose lid also closes.
It’s a very well sized compartment – with my standard sized iPad and 12″ MacBook pictured inside in the following photo. The amenity kit and headphones are even in there too, hardly visible.
Immediately below that are two mesh pockets, one on the side of the storage bin and another at the front, designed for your smaller devices. It’s the perfect space for your mobile phone while charging via the nearby USB port.
At the immediate seat side is a water bottle holder, just behind the adjustable reading light.
At the window side of the suite there is a large table surface between the seat and the windows themselves. This is great for keeping items like your laptop close by during the flight.
At the front of the suite directly below the TV there is a handy storage area JetBlue calls the ‘glove compartment’. Here it is with my 12″ MacBook inside.
There is a shoe storage at floor level.
A literature pocket is located at the front of the side console between the seat and the aisle, where you enter the suite.
JetBlue serves four wines in Mint, plus an additional sparking wine option and a range of beers and liquors. There are also plenty of soft drink options available, including tea and coffee. Here is the menu from our flight (click to enlarge):
As you would expect, JetBlue concentrates its wine list on US producers, most of the time solely Californian. When we flew with them in fact they had just started Mint service from New York and Boston to Seattle a couple of months before, so in celebration they were featuring their first wine from Washington state on the menu.
Now just to be clear, we’ve had very good, and very bad, American wine. That’s because truthfully we don’t know a great deal about it, preferring to stick to our known staples from Australia, New Zealand and, when we fly Singapore Airlines, France.
These wines on JetBlue though were excellent, especially the Syncline from Washington state. Here’s how the wines offered on this flight rate on our favourite wine rating app Vivino:
- Roederer Estate Brut: 3.8 out of 5 on Vivino
- Lioco Sonoma County Chardonnay 2017: 3.7 out of 5 on Vivino
- Withers Rosé 2017: 4.1 out of 5 on Vivino
These are excellent scores for Business Class, slightly better in fact than you tend to get on Singapore Airlines Regional Business Class and roundly similar to what you would expect on Singapore Airlines long-haul Business Class.
On the hot drinks front, JetBlue has installed an espresso maker in the galley of Mint planes for freshly brewed cappuccinos and espressos.
Food choices on JetBlue ‘Mint’ stem from a simple formula. Each flight has five main dishes to choose from, and you can select three of them (a concept JetBlue calls ‘tapas-style).
If you’re less hungry of course, taking two dishes or just one dish is fine also.
Here’s the menu you’ll get in Mint, depending on your departure time:
- Flights departing before 9.45am: Breakfast
- Flights departing 9.46am – 6.59pm: Lunch/Dinner
- Flights departing 7pm and later (westbound): Lunch/Dinner
- Flights departing 7pm and later (eastbound): Shuteye
The ‘Shuteye’ menu is a more limited selection after takeoff, with a choice of three dishes, but also includes a morning snack like a bagel before landing.
That’s because JetBlue’s eastbound (e.g. Los Angeles to New York) flights take 6 hours and lose 3 hours from the time zone impact, so your late night departure from the west coast is designed to get you into your destination first thing in the morning, probably for a work day.
Back to our flight though, since we were pushing back at 10.50am, it was the Lunch/Dinner menu for us. Actual dishes are rotated every month, so our selection was for July 2018 (click to enlarge).
If you have special dietary requirements you’ll need to make your request for such a meal online at least 24 hours before departure. Whatever time of day your flight is departing, you can ensure your menu will comply with the following if desired:
- Low Calorie
- ‘Plane Eats’
You can view all the current Mint dining menus at this dedicated page on the JetBlue website, including what’s on offer this month for those selecting from these special dietary requirements menus.
On our flight, lunch service began with a round of drinks from the bar, followed by the fried wontons with Asian sesame dip.
We had already been tipped off in advance that this dip was really, really good. Boy it didn’t disappoint! For me there’s always too much dip for the snack when I look at a picture like the one above, but in this case I made sure I scoffed the lot!
Nothing that tasty can be good for you so I don’t even want to know how it’s made.
For the three main dishes I opted for the Heirloom Tomato Salad, Chilli Lemongrass Chicken and Braised Short Rib.
The Heirloom Tomato Salad in particular was excellent, and the beef was tender, nicely pink in the middle and served with a rich sauce. The lemongrass chicken was the most average of the three dishes, nothing special.
Eddie also chose the Chilli Lemongrass Chicken (though his was presented a little better), alongside the Shrimp & Grits and the Chicken Pasta Salad.
One thing to consider is that with all three dishes served together (i.e. at exactly the same time) it may be best to treat any of the cold salad choices as a side dish rather than a starter, to avoid the main dishes getting cold.
I skipped dessert, but Eddie still had room for ice cream. Naturally, having just left Boston, it’s from Toscanini’s.
Overall for a Business Class flight of this length the food was very good. The structure of the menu is simple, allows you a reasonable level of choice, and almost everything is presented well and tastes good.
Quantity-wise although each dish looks small it’s actually quite a lot of food. I dare say if you were still hungry later in the flight and there were some spares available, the crew would happily bring you some more. For us, it was perfectly ample.
Power & Wi-Fi
For those carrying several devices when they travel, here’s another reason to try and secure the Mint suite over the Mint seat – an additional power outlet.
Normally an additional power outlet in a Business Class seat would mean two instead of one. Not in Mint Suites.
Not only do you have two multi-standard sockets and two USB ports at the window side of the seat, where a large side console is ideal for storing a laptop for example, there’s also an additional socket and USB port nearer the door, alongside the storage pockets designed for your phone, below the water bottle holder.
That’s a total of six charging options (3 plug and 3 USB).
JetBlue’s Wi-Fi connection, ‘Fly-Fi’, is available gate-to-gate and is complimentary for all passengers. The airline used to charge for the high speed version of its Wi-Fi, with a complimentary slower connection, but it no longer does and all passengers now get the high-speed version free.
The system is provided by Exede Internet and is also used by United Airlines on domestic flights.
The system uses both Ka and Ku-band satellite networks to power the in-flight Wi-Fi, and this dual-band technology is what allows the airline to provide the service to so many passengers (over 150) at the same time.
The long ping is based on the nature of an in-flight connection (satellites are simply a long way away), but the internet was perfectly useable with around double the download rate we get on the ground in the Singapore Airlines SilverKris lounges at Changi!
Upload speeds are a little more frustrating, especially if you’re adding images to articles for example, but it still worked well and we had no major issues with the connection.
In fact after lunch I managed to draft a full article in flight, which required some extensive online research as well as the ever-quirky WordPress interface.
Overall we can’t help but be impressed by the charging options, with more power sockets than Singapore Airlines offer in their new A380 Suites, and the fast and reliable Wi-Fi connection.
JetBlue offers an individual 15.6″ IFE screen for each passenger in Mint.
To give you an idea, that’s on par with the screen size Singapore Airlines offers in its 2006 Business Class and 2009 Regional Business Class, though more recent SIA Business products have upgraded to 18″ HD versions.
The range of programming is nothing like you would get on Singapore Airlines, but there is still a good selection including one thing SIA does not offer – Live TV.
The headphones are Grado Labs SR60e models. They aren’t not noise cancelling, but are good quality and well rated.
There’s a distinctive colourful amenity kit from New York-based Hayward & Hopper for every Mint passenger, waiting at your seat when you board.
It’s well stocked when you consider you’re flying the Business Class product of a low-cost airline. Contents include:
- JetBlue socks from Basic Outfitters
- A Hayward & Hopper branded lens / screen cloth
- Eye shades
- Ear plugs
- Dental kit
Toiletries are from another New York brand – Hudson Made, from their ‘Morning Shift’ range, and comprise:
- Moisturising Lip Saver
- Moisturising Hand Lotion
- Hydrating Facial Mist
The amenity kit bag designs vary, so regular travellers should build up a nice collection.
Seat controls and positions
There is a simple and intuitive seat controller built into the armrest of each seat.
There are three preset positions, one for takeoff and landing, a relaxation position and the bed mode.
It’s possible to stop the seat moving at any point between these presets, and independent control of the seat recline and leg rest is also possible.
Finally the controls also allow you to adjust the lumbar support, cushion firmness, switch the floor light on and off, and control the massage function.
The suite door enhances privacy and is a nice touch, but is quite low so anyone walking past your seat can easily see inside. It also means the crew can continue to serve you without opening the door – they just reach over the top without difficulty.
When the seat is in bed mode privacy is improved significantly with the door closed.
All the seats in JetBlue Mint convert to fully flat beds. Again you gain some advantage being in the Mint suite rather than the Mint seat here, with 57cm seat width (53cm in the Mint seats) and a 203cm long bed.
A decent pillow and blanket are provided.
Your feet go into a small foot cubby when sleeping, which is beneath the centre console of the seat pair in front. It’s quite a small space, but it didn’t prevent us turning over while we rested for a while towards the end of the flight.
Taller passengers might find this to be more of an issue.
There are two toilets in the JetBlue Mint cabin on the A321, one at the front ahead of the forward main aircraft door on the left, and another behind the last row, also on the left.
Bear in mind the rear of the two toilets is also used by Economy passengers, only the forward one is ‘exclusive’.
There is nothing special about the toilets, it’s hard to achieve anything fancy on single-aisle aircraft where space is tight.
Aside from hand soap there were no additional amenities provided here, however these toilets were both kept clean throughout the flight, which is the most important thing.
The two crew did a fantastic job of attending to the needs of the 16 passengers in the completely full Mint cabin throughout our 5 hour 50 minute flight. They were always warm, friendly and courteous, very happy to chat and even made recommendations on the food and drink choices. It was clear they both really enjoyed their jobs, or at least if not they certainly didn’t let it show.
At all times it was a casual and friendly, but professional approach to service. Even after the meal service the crew regularly passed through the cabin to check if you needed anything, and call bells were answered straight away.
In another example of service, there is no area to stow hand luggage in any of the Mint seats during takeoff and landing, so carry on items must be in the overhead locker during these flight phases.
After takeoff, the crew came through and kindly offered to pass any items from the overhead locker down to us. That was great – I didn’t even have to get up to retrieve my rucksack. It’s the sort of service you’d expect in First Class but not in Business.
Overall the crew were excellent and we had no complaints here, a far cry from some of the other experiences we’ve had flying with US carriers.
How to redeem Mint seats
Mint is available for purchase using JetBlue’s own frequent flyer currency – TrueBlue points. You can also redeem JetBlue flights using Emirates Skywards miles, however this is only possible for Economy Class and unfortunately does not include the Mint cabin.
Where to credit miles from JetBlue Mint flights
You can’t use your Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles to redeem a JetBlue flight, however you can earn KrisFlyer miles when flying with JetBlue on a full fare ticket, as we did on this trip.
Business Class passengers (that’s Mint in this case) earn at 125% of the miles flown, which netted us 3,380 KrisFlyer miles each for the one-way journey between Boston and San Francisco.
Ok that’s not life changing, but it goes some way to offsetting the cost of the flight. We know that these KrisFlyer miles will save us at least S$65-70 each on future redemptions, close to 10% ‘value-back’ on the fare we paid.
Alternatively we could have earned 2,979 of JetBlue’s own TrueBlue points, which are revenue-based for both earning and spending, and therefore have a ‘fixed’ value of about 1.7 Singapore cents each.
KrisFlyer miles were obviously more appealing to us, not only because the value is better, but also since we were unlikely to make any future use of TrueBlue points. Even though they never expire, a small balance isn’t particularly helpful.
You can also credit paid JetBlue Mint fares to South African Airways Voyager miles (125% of distance flown, like KrisFlyer) or HawaiianMiles (150% of distance flown).
Which JetBlue flights have Mint Class?
Not every JetBlue aircraft has this product, in fact only about 13% of their total fleet has it. To experience ‘Mint’, you must be flying on selected coast-to-coast or east coast USA to Caribbean flights.
You’ll also be on board a JetBlue Airbus A321 aircraft (no others in the fleet have Mint). Even then not every JetBlue A321 has it. The airline’s A321 planes come in two varieties:
- 42 ‘Even More Space’ (extra legroom) and 158 ‘Core’ (Economy) seats (i.e. no Mint cabin), or
- 16 Mint (Business), 42 ‘Even More Space’ (extra legroom) and 102 ‘Core’ (Economy) seats.
No prizes for guessing that you’ll need to be on the latter of the two to get these seats.
The good news is there are at least 19 Mint routes as of April 2019, all of which are to or from one of three JetBlue hubs – Boston, JFK or Fort Lauderdale.
From New York-JFK:
- Las Vegas
- Los Angeles
- San Diego
- San Francisco
- St. Lucia
- Las Vegas
- Los Angeles
- San Diego
- San Francisco
From Fort Lauderdale:
- Los Angeles
- San Francisco
How much can you expect to pay for Mint?
While you won’t always get a $548 deal like we did, especially booking closer to departure date, Mint fares can be as low as US$399 during special offers, like Sam at Point Me to the Plane spotted in July last year. That’s exceptional value for a coast-to-coast flat bed seat.
Picking a random date around three weeks from now, fares on the same route we flew (BOS-SFO) are generally around the US$1,200 mark, however the less popular timings are cheaper and can even be secured for as little as US$449 (around S$600).
With the advent of the Airbus A321LR, JetBlue has recently announced service from the east coast of the USA to Europe, starting in 2021.
Flights from both Boston and New York to London are planned initially, though the Mint cabin is likely to be a different version to the one in this review. Australian Business Traveller has tipped the Thomson Aero Vantage Solo seat in a 1-1 herringbone layout with closing doors as the likely product, for potentially up to 16 ‘suites’.
That hasn’t been confirmed yet, but would make JetBlue the launch customer for this seat type.
This is SilkAir and SIA’s new single-aisle Business seat
Many of our readers will recall our article in February, after SilkAir announced it would install the Thompson Aero Vantage seat to its fleet of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft prior to a full merger of the regional carrier into Singapore Airlines in around 2020.
That means you’ll see a very familiar version of these JetBlue seats on SIA group aircraft from May 2020. While the colours and customisation will no doubt be quite different, more closely matching the latest Singapore Airlines 2018 Regional Business Class seats, the fundamental layout should be the same as the JetBlue one.
We’d put money on there being no suite doors at the solo seats on SilkAir’s aircraft though!
JetBlue describes its Mint cabin as “top-notch service with loungy, stylish seats minus the stuffiness often associated with the front-of-the-cabin experience.”
We usually treat these kind of statements with some natural cynicism. Words are easy, after all.
Truth is we’ve flown a number of domestic flights in the USA over the years, and honestly speaking they’re never anything special whatever cabin class we’ve been travelling in. JetBlue Mint is certainly the new exception.
With the added benefits of the Mint suites, JetBlue could actually charge more for them over the Mint seats, in our opinion, so its great that they don’t. Solo travellers might even want to choose a JetBlue flight with a different timing to secure an available Mint suite, if their travel plans are flexible.
By booking early, we got a great deal for this flight. For the price we paid you certainly can’t complain about a private flat-bed Suite with closing doors, a very nice meal, top notch wines, friendly service and fast Wi-Fi for close to 6 hours.
This flight was further than Singapore to Perth or Singapore to Shanghai, and there’s no way you could pick up a Business Class fare in a seat of this standard on those routes for anything like the price we paid for this flight. Finally JetBlue’s partnership with SIA earned us a few thousand KrisFlyer miles for the journey, which was the icing on the cake.
Overall for a regional Business Class product, this one blows most out of the water. We would strongly recommend it. The only minor criticism – no airport lounge access is included in the ticket.