If you’re not quite sure what you’re saving your points for, here’s a suggestion. And please note, this post is going to be a little longer than usual because I’m on an airplane and have some time to kill. This review is based on a flight from San Francisco to Boston with my family of four. I paid for the flight with TrueBlue points.
When JetBlue first launched, it didn’t quite seem to know what it wanted to be when it grew up. It wanted to be a low-cost, low-fare carrier, but also wanted to offer premium amenities. It scored a coup by picking up daytime slots at New York’s JFK airport, but many of its other destinations were smaller cities. Most importantly, it was attempting to offer a somewhat differentiated business model in an industry that had bankrupted far better capitalized companies. But it was founded by low-cost pioneer David Neeleman, who had been a co-founder at both Southwest and WestJet. He doesn’t know the meaning of quit. You couldn’t help but route for them (pun intended).
To my surprise, the airline not only survived but it actually flourished. In an industry where being able to buy a one-way ticket at half the price of the roundtrip is considered a novelty, it turns out that passengers do want amenities, even if they’re not always willing to pay a premium for them. JetBlue has somehow found a way to deliver them.
- It was the first airline to deliver a true seatback entertainment product.
- It offers free, high-speed (i.e., non-gogo) internet.* It’s fast enough to watch video on Amazon prime.
- Their Mosaic program offers key amenities, such as the ability to change or cancel a ticket for free.
- They’re one of the few partners to offer points for shopping at Amazon through their mall.
JetBlue’s Mint Product
Mint is one of JetBlue’s newest innovation and represents the company’s premium product. When they announced it, I was pretty sure it would fail, and fail fast. It didn’t, of course, because, instead of pricing the product at 10X a coach fare, most seats go for 3-6X the basic product. Thus, not only are corporations willing to pay for it but high-spending individuals do so, as well. People who would never pay $1,800 on a major airline to fly cross-country are willing to spend $649, so JetBlue makes the money instead of giving a free upgrade to an elite member, as Delta or American would.
Helpful Hint: I have seen prices for one-way, transcontinental fares ranging from $549 to about $1,300.
And how’s the product? Simple: It’s one of the best, if not the best, premium products in the domestic market, and it comes at half the price of its competitors’.**
Before the flight
JetBlue has one really nice touch before the flight. Shortly after I booked Mint, I got a welcome email with a phone number that connected me right to a Mint representative. I decided to try it out and the representative picked up quickly. I had a question about a seat assignment and she ended up transferring me to the Mosaic line, since I have status with the airline. I would have liked to have gotten it all done on one call, but everyone’s so nice that it was hard to complain.
At SFO, there was a separate line for Mint. The customer in front of me must have had some serious issues, since she was up there for several minutes, but one of the Mosaic representatives grabbed me, tagged our bags with the special tags and sent us on our way. Mint passengers also have the use a priority security line and pre-board.
Seating in Mint is a bit unusual. There are four rows, two rows of two and two rows of four, with the former in a 1X1 formation and the latter in a 2X2. The singletons are set up as “suites,” with a little extra room (in an already roomy product) and a door that closes, giving you a little extra privacy. Every one of the 12 seats was occupied.
Helpful Hint: Book ahead of time to get the suites. When we booked, there was no difference in the price of the suites versus having two seats together. I sat in a suite, my wife sat in a suite and the kids sat together right behind me.
As I got on, the flight attendant brought me a welcome drink and gave me a “tour” of the suite. It was clearly set up for efficiency. The outlets were right next to me and didn’t leave me in the awkward position of trying to avoid wires if I got up. The trays folded out from the side, the lights actually worked and there was a cool little amenity bag for me. One nitpick: There was not a ton of room by my feet, meaning that my bag had to go in the overhead for take-off and landing.
I had heard mixed reviews of the seat ahead of time, but I found it to be extremely comfortable. Added bonus: there is a massage function on the chairs, so you can get relaxed without ever leaving your seat. My kids enjoyed those (JetBlue, you can send me the bill.). Not happy with the firmness? No problem, it’s adjustable. But it was all a moot point to me. I was asleep in fully-flat seats.
Many people bring their own entertainment now, but for those of us who don’t, there was a nice library to choose from. In addition to a variety of movies, tv shows and games, there was live Direct TV and Sirius XM radio.
For those of you with Amazon Prime, the high-speed internet onboard is fast enough to stream movies (I haven’t tried any other streaming services yet). Amazon has been an increasingly important partner for JetBlue, so you’ll see a lot of opportunities onboard to sign up for Prime if you’re not already a member.
It’s not your standard airplane menu. Most of the dishes were designed by or based on restaurants in New York and are more sophisticated than your average fare.
After a common appetizer, dishes are served tapas style. Instead of one large entree, you get to choose three smaller ones. We all know how difficult it is to cook meals on an airplane, so having several options that are not full dishes is probably a winning idea. You won’t go hungry on the flight and they give you a decent snack a few hours after the meal. And if you’ve never had a cookie from Milk Bar, well, I’m not going to try and describe it. Suffice it to say that your first won’t be your last.
Helpful Hint: For those of you who aren’t into Grilled Chicken Paillard or Sea Bass, check out the “Plane Eats” menu, which has obscurities such as hamburgers, grilled chicken and pancakes.
Overall, very good. You’ll get white glove treatment along the way and there were two flight attendants to take care of the twelve passengers up front. One flight attendant was all over the place, while the other seemed somewhat aloof. Overall, though, it was a very relaxed environment. If you wanted help, they were there to help you. And if you wanted to be left alone, that worked, also.
We used points for our tickets. Four tickets cost us just over 180,000 points, which equated to about $2,200 in cash equivalent value. But, since I have a JetBlue Plus credit card, I got a 10% rebate on the points I spent, or about 18,000 points. That rebate alone is worth the equivalent of two years of the annual fee.
Product Quality: A-. There are a few areas for improvement and a rough edge here and there, but this is one of the best transcon products that I have ever flown.
Value: A+. This experience was as good as it gets for the price I paid.
Would I do it again?: I’ve already booked two future trips on Mint.
*We will conveniently ignore the fact that I am currently on a JetBlue flight whose internet service is temporarily out. Nobody’s perfect.
**Delta, American and United all offer first-class products in three-class planes on a very few routes. These products are also a true first-class and comparable to JetBlue’s. But JetBlue has far more routes with its Mint product than the competitors and at a much lower price point. As a mostly coach carrier, JetBlue doesn’t have as many premium customers, so they treat those customers like gold.
Needless to say, the Mint product blows away the standard 40″ pitch “first-class” product that most airlines offer on 99% of their flights.
Want to subscribe? Just enter your email in the box above (and to the right) and click on the confirmation. GMailers, check your Social or Promotions boxes!
Follow me on Twitter @FFMiles101 or share with the Facebook button below.
And finally, you can apply for credit cards through the Credit Cards for Charity link above. All card proceeds are donated to charity, so please do well by doing good!