JetBlue Airways does what it does best with its new Mint premium product – offer customers a better experience at often-cheaper prices than its competitors.
The New York-based carrier takes its ethos of unlimited blue chips, animal crackers and ample legroom throughout a previously all-coach cabin to the premium market with Mint. With lie-flat seats, a full meal service and even amenity kits by Birchbox, it is a top tier product that is also not your father’s first or business class.
The meal service designed by Saxon + Parole is more a tasting menu than a proper three- or four-course meal with passengers selecting three of five entrée items that follow a cold soup for lunch. While there is proper flatware, linens are nowhere to be found after the hot towel before the meal.
“We were looking for a degree of luxury and quality while avoiding the masculine feel of old-school business and first class,” says Jamie Perry, director of product development for JetBlue, during a simulation onboard the airline’s first Airbus A321 configured with Mint at New York’s JFK International airport on 10 June.
Each seat also has audio video on demand (AVOD) and LiveTV and two power outlets. Passengers can access free Fly-fi wi-fi for the time being.
Mint’s success is far from guaranteed.
The premium market between JFK and Los Angeles and San Francisco where JetBlue will deploy the product is saturated with specialised products on all of the heavyweights of transcontinental flying – American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and Virgin America.
Perry says that JetBlue hopes to win back its loyal customers who have switched to competitors on transcontinental flights as well as win over new, non-brand loyal customers with low fares that start at $599 one way.
Mint likely fits in somewhere between the top-end three-class offering on American and the hip transcontinental product with a bit of class on Virgin America in the market.
“We’re very happy,” says Perry. “We think we have a very competitive product and service.”
JetBlue will operate 11 A321s with 16 Mint, 41 even more space and 102 economy seats by the end of 2015. Service begins on the JFK-Los Angeles route with one daily flight each way on 15 June and on the JFK-San Francisco route on 26 October.