JetBlue dubs premium product ‘Mint’

New York
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Mint is the name of JetBlue Airways’ new premium product, which is scheduled to debut on flights from New York's John F. Kennedy International airport to Los Angeles on 15 June 2014, the airline confirms to Flightglobal.

The Mint cabin will include 16 lie-flat seats, four of them enclosed in “mini suites”, on the airline’s new Airbus A321 aircraft.

Later next year JetBlue will debut Mint on flights from JFK to San Francisco as well.

JetBlue declines to provide more information about the product, saying it will release more details at an event this afternoon at its New York headquarters.

The formerly economy-only carrier has said that its new premium product is aimed at helping better attract more business travellers. An improved experience is critical to competing against other carriers that offer first- and business-class cabins on flights between New York and California, it says.

JetBlue has said that its cross-country flights have razor-thin margins and that it has struggled to compete because other carriers that subsidise economy ticket prices with sales of first class seats.

JetBlue’s transcontinental flights generate relatively low passenger revenue per mile and have a low “net promoter score”, a measure of customer loyalty, JetBlue has said.

JetBlue’s lie-flat seats and mini suites will go up against first class and business class products offered my industry heavyweights like American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines.

Those three carriers have invested in their transcontinental product in recent years. United flies specially-configured Boeing 757-200s on the route and dubs its product “Premium Service”, while Delta markets its 757 and 767 transcontinental product as “BusinessElite”.

American flies three-class 767s on the routes but will soon operate the service with new A321s, and low-cost carrier Virgin America’s A320s flying the routes have first class.

JetBlue has said that it expects its lie-flat seats and mini suites will be better than the first-class product offered by the competition. The lie-flat seats will extend to 6.7ft (203cm), have “air cushions” seats with a massage function and adjustable firmness and 15-inch televisions.

JetBlue’s initial A321s arriving this year will not have first class cabins, but will have 190 economy seats and operate dense routes to Florida and the Caribbean, the airline has said.

The A321s arriving next year will have 12 lie-flat seats, four mini suites and 143 economy seats, according to the airline.

JetBlue says eventually it will install its premium product on 11 A321s.

Analysts have questioned whether JetBlue can generate enough revenue from premium seats to offset the reduction in economy seats.

Aircraft equipped with a premium cabins will have 31 fewer seats than all-economy A321s, and the 16 lie-flat seats will need to generate at least as much revenue as the 47 economy seats that would otherwise displace.