UPDATE (Nov 2016): Delta announced that they'll also be adding lie-flat seats to their NYC – San Diego, and Boston – San Francisco routes! Hooray for competition!
As I've said before, I'm a huge fan of JetBlue's "Mint" First Class product (trip reports here, here, and here) It's hands-down the best domestic seat, food, and service in First Class. I'd even go so far to say that Mint, except for its lack of lounge access, is actually superior to the Big 3's (United, Delta, American) international Business Class offerings.
After the big excitement last week where JetBlue and Alaska were bidding for Virgin America, I wasn't sure what to expect from them once it became clear Alaska was willing to pay any price (and did) to win.
Well, they announced some big news today – Mint is expanding to a bunch of new markets! I've mentioned before that they expanded beyond the traditional premium domestic market of LAX/SFO/JRK and added Boston, Aruba to the list of cities they serve. But now we can add:
- BOS/NY – San Diego/Seattle
- Las Vegas – New York
- Fort Lauderdale – SFO/LAX
- Grenada – JFK
This is fantastic news. Just a few years ago, the only lie-flat domestic First Class was from the big 3 and only on the JFK-SFO/LAX route. JetBlue entered this market with an even better seat (hello suites with closing doors!) and gourmet food and forced the Big 3 to slash their prices by $1000.
Now they're going to bring this same product to a bunch of runs where the competition is crappy 38" recliners, so they'll be several notches above the competition for quality and experience. But I'm genuinely curious how many people will actually pay to fly First Class in these markets. So often it seems like domestic First exists mostly for the benefit frequent travelers who fly so much they're getting some type of complimentary upgrade. A couple thoughts on that:
- JetBlue isn't shy about offering steep discounts on Mint to get people to try it. (And once you try it, you're hooked!)
- JetBlue's folksy attitude somehow manages to make First Class feel accessible and fun, not a club for "grumpy 40-something guys in embroidered work Polo shirts"
- Because they don't do complimentary upgrades, JetBlue has to "earn" each passenger's satisfaction every time.
- While I normally hate paying money for crappy domestic First because it's such a crummy product, I'm fine with giving JetBlue some extra money for a lie-flat bed, great food, and flight attendants who care about service. Finally something worth the extra money!
(more of my JetBlue posts)