Flights Reviews

Review: JetBlue A321 Mint Business Class

JetBlue was one of the first to install flat-bed Business Class seats in single-aisle aircraft. Their 'Mint' product might well still be the best.

B6 Mint Class Front (JetBlue)

Flight details

  • 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.

B6 A321 (Eric Salard).jpg
JetBlue’s Mint cabin is installed on selected Airbus A321 aircraft. (Photo: Eric Salard)
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Mint Class

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.

B6 Mint Suite Door (JetBlue).jpg
JetBlue’s announcement of ‘Mint’ in September 2013 caught many in the industry off guard. (Image: JetBlue)

It was seen as a big gamble for the airline, previously sticking to the traditional single-class, single aircraft type, low-cost model.

Seat selection

The Mint cabin on JetBlue’s A321 aircraft has 16 seats across five rows.

Seat Map.jpg
Mint seat map. (Image: JetBlue)

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.

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Check in

Check In Line.jpg
(Photo: MainlyMiles)

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.

Self Check In.jpg
Self Check In kiosks at JetBlue’s Boston Terminal C. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

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.

Lounge

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.

The Lounge BOS
‘The Lounge’. Just flying JetBlue Mint won’t get you in here though. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

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.

Boarding

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.

Welcome Note
Welcome note from the crew. We don’t have celebrity status, every Mint passenger gets one of these! (Photo: MainlyMiles)

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.

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JetBlue couple Mint seats. (Photo: Live and Let’s Fly)

Settling in

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.

Rear Screen.jpg
A transparent screen extends above the suites and adds to the feeling of privacy. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

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!

Welcome Drink
The JetBlue welcome ‘RefreshMint’. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

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.

Suite Overview
Mint Suite overview. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The same information is provided for the ‘couple’ seats.

Seat Overview
Mint Seat overview. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

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.

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Storage options

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.

Side Storage
The large storage compartment at the side. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

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.

Handbag Stowage
Lots of room in the side storage compartment. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

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.

Phone Storage
The mesh pocket storage pouches are ideal for your mobile phone. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

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.

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The large side table between the seat and the windows. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

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.

Glove Compartment
Glove compartment. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

There is a shoe storage at floor level.

Floor Storage
Shoe storage. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

A literature pocket is located at the front of the side console between the seat and the aisle, where you enter the suite.

Magazine Storage
Literature pocket. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Beverages

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):

Menu Wine
JetBlue Mint beverages (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:

Sparkling wine

  • Roederer Estate Brut: 3.8 out of 5 on Vivino

White wine

  • Lioco Sonoma County Chardonnay 2017: 3.7 out of 5 on Vivino

Rosé wine

  • Withers Rosé 2017: 4.1 out of 5 on Vivino

Red wine

  • Failla Pinot Noir 2016: 4.1 out of 5 on Vivino
  • Syncline Subduction Red 2016: 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.

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Food

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).

Menu Cover
Get it? (Photo: MainlyMiles)

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).

Menu Food
The Lunch/Dinner menu (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. Whateve