With good progress made on my Vienna trip report, I’m temporarily pivoting to another recent trip. In November, I had the opportunity to try jetBlue A321neo LR Mint Business Class from Boston to London Gatwick. This product gets a ton of hype in the blogosphere. But truthfully, while I found many good things about this flight, I encountered several disappointing misses. Thus, I don’t think it justifies the hype.
jetBlue (B6) Flight 2104
- Friday, November 3, 2023
- Depart: Boston – Edward L. Logan International Airport (BOS), Terminal C, Gate C36, 20:08, 4m early
- Arrive: London Gatwick Airport, Terminal N, Gate 50, 06:48 (+1), 7m early
- Duration: 6 hours 40 minutes
- Seat: 3A
- Equipment: Airbus A321neo
The Follies of Booking jetBlue Mint
So how did I book a Transatlantic jaunt in jetBlue Mint? Let’s just say, it took a considerable amount of effort. Initially, I planned to take advantage of the jetBlue – Emirates partnership and use Skywards points to book Mint. No, I don’t have a cache of Skywards miles, but I have plenty of Citi Thank You points to transfer. Unfortunately, before I managed to book this trip, jetBlue and Emirates canceled their partnership. Eventually, though, I found an alternative – redeeming Thank You points directly via the Citi travel portal. While this cost (a not insignificant) 202,970 Thank You points, it beat paying $2,029.70 cash. While marginally more expensive than transferring points to True Blue (197,058 points), the ability to earn points like a cash ticket make this more attractive. And so I booked the one stop from DFW with a connection in Boston.
Unfortunately, about a month later, the dreaded schedule change reared its ugly head. The initial leg from Dallas to Boston now arrived after the scheduled departure to Gatwick. (Did I mention that I really, really, really despise schedule changes?) And Citi Travel couldn’t work out an alternative. So I just elected to cancel and rebook only the Boston to Gatwick segment at a cost of 198,120 Thank You points ($1,981.20 cash). Did this represent the best value redemption? No, but with a big stash of Thank You points at my disposal, this seemed as good a use as any. Note that I booked this before jetBlue began its partnership with Qatar Airways. You might check to see if Avios provide a feasible redemption opportunity before flushing a ton of credit card points.
Check-In and Boarding
I flew up from Dallas on Spirit, enjoying the Big Front Seat along the way. With a more than 4 hour layover, I first went to Stephanie’s for a free meal, then headed to the Air France lounge to kill some time. I arrived at the gate about 15 minutes before boarding. Boarding began on time, with Mint boarding in the first group. I soon made my way onboard the gorgeous A321neo LR, and settled into my seat in Mint. Note that I decided not to pay the extra money for the “Mint Studio”. For a short eastbound Transatlantic flight, it just didn’t seem worth it.
jetBlue A321neo Mint Business Class – Seating and Interior
First things first – this is one beautiful interior. On the A321neo LR, Mint features 24 Thomson Vantage Solo seats in a 1×1 configuration. All seats include a flat bed that extends to 77″ in length. The two Mint Studio seats (1A and 1F) feature a 22″ LCD screen, while standard Mint suites include a 17″ screen. The seats look quite sleek in the grey leather and neon blue mood lighting. In addition, the faux woodgrain actually works with the seat design. You don’t feel like you’re flying the Wagon Queen Family Truckster, unlike on American’s decommissioned A330s.
Waiting at each seat is a “bed in a bag” with a decent pillow, and a very nice duvet. More on that later.
One thing I don’t like about this seat is that it’s angled away from the window, typical of herringbone designs. On this all night flight, though, it didn’t really matter.
The cabin in general looks shiny and new, though I hoped to see the simulated sky on the ceiling. Despite the narrowbody aircraft used, I thought the cabin felt spacious and airy. The new plane smell certainly helped. Of course, Mint on the LR features the same gimmick spreading across new Business Class products, the “suite” with a door. I found it about as gimmicky as other Business Class products with doors. Because the doors aren’t high enough to actually stop anyone from peering inside.
In fairness, the door does at least provide the impression of privacy with the seat in bed mode. I suppose it’s also more effective in this configuration, since the seats angle towards the aisle.
Seat controls are on the right side of the seat near the woodgrain table. I found the controls easy to use, and really allowed you to customize the seat to your liking. I found it quite comfortable in relaxed mode, with excellent padding and thigh/back support.
A simplified seat control is on the right side armrest below the tray table, with buttons for both upright and bed modes. There’s also a remote for the IFE screen here (more on that in the next section).
Egress to to the aisle is a little narrow, but not as bad as, say, the Delta One Suite on the A350.
Storage space is pretty good in these seats. First off is the generously sized tray table on the aisle side of the seat. Waiting on the table were the menu for the day’s flight, headphones, and an amenity kit. A really nice touch jetBlue provides is printing the names of the crew on the menu.
There’s a decent sized storage area under the ottoman, large enough for a small backpack or computer bag. The button between the ottoman and IFE screen, meanwhile, reveals a laptop storage area. I didn’t dare use the bin. As someone notorious for forgetting items behind, I don’t put anything important in storage bins while sleeping. However, Matthew reported in his review that the bin is too small for large laptops.
Speaking of the ottoman itself, jetBlue makes good use of the limited space on the A321neo. Though several newer suite products suffer from narrow footwells, this one isn’t too bad.
On the other side of the seat is another storage area, large enough for a small water bottle (provided at boarding).
There’s also another netted storage bin at foot level on the window side of the seat. This contains a complimentary pair of slippers provided for all Mint passengers.
And finally, one last small storage area near the window by the charging pad.
For extra lighting, the seat includes a reading light above the seat control panel. (The panel itself allows you to customize lighting in the suite itself.)
The seat reclines fully flat in bed mode. With the thick duvet, I found the bed quite comfortable. I ended up sleeping soundly for about 4 hours.
I mentioned the amenity kit earlier. This, unfortunately, appears to be a victim of cost cutting. The kit comes in a flimsy bag, and a throw-away paper pouch. Contents include an eye mask, ear plugs, toothbrush, and toothpaste. If you care about amenity kits, you’ll find yourself disappointed with this one.
Another interesting design cue in the A321neo – the simulated brick wallpaper pattern in the lavatories. Personally, I like it; it’s certainly unique, and fits jetBlue’s image.
Overall, I think jetBlue did a nice job with the interior and the seat. They’ve managed to create a comfortable, competitive Business Class product in a narrowbody cabin. We’ve sure come a long way from recliner seats on a 757…
jetBlue A321neo Mint Business Class – In-Flight Entertainment
I mentioned the 17″ IFE screen earlier in the review. The screen provides excellent resolution, and one of the sharpest pictures in the sky.
In addition to the excellent picture quality, jetBlue’s on-demand system includes an impressive array of movies, TV shows, games, and more.
One of the unique features are TV and movie selections for specific interests or occasions. These include holiday classics, and selections for short and long flights, among others. You can also access Peacock programming and a variety of HBO original series.
If you ever want to see exactly how much flight time remains, but don’t want to go to the moving map, there is a widget on the main page with that info. It’s supposed to also display the plane name, but it seemed off on this flight.
But seriously, why would anyone not want to look at the moving map? The jetBlue version is…ok. There’s not much customization or zooming available. And I couldn’t find an easy way to freeze the live flight info (altitude, distance to destination, etc.) on the screen.
jetBlue does provide headphones to Mint customers, but it appeared the airline misprovisioned them on this flight. Other reviews, and jetBlue’s own website, indicate that it provides Master & Dynamic headphones on Transatlantic flights. But we received Thinksound units, usually found on domestic Mint routes, and a rather significant step down in quality. These aren’t noise canceling, and I found the quality so-so at best. Combined with the skimpy amenity kit that also seems like the domestic offering, this strikes me as really sloppy work on jetBlue’s part. Or the airline’s just gotten cheap.
As far as in-seat power goes, one combination 110v and USB outlet is by the storage table.
The second outlet is on the window side near the water bottle holder (see photo in the previous section). I have one major complaint about this setup. Both USB outlets are of the USB-C variety. This confused me, as other reviews, and jetBlue’s own information, indicates Mint Suites contain one USB-A and one USB-C. If jetBlue really is retrofitting all Mint Suites with only USB-C outlets, they really should reconsider. There’s enough technophobes and cheapskates out there (cough…me…cough cough) that still use older phones with the older-style cables.
jetBlue offers another unique feature with its in-flight entertainment system – the ability to control the screen with your phone. I found the setup process itself really easy. This involves connecting to WiFi, and then pairing your phone with the screen using the instructions on the IFE system.
Once that’s done, you can access your virtual remote on the FlyFi portal on your phone.
The good news is, the process is really easy and takes only a couple of minutes. The bad news is, I found the virtual controller terribly difficult to modulate, with a significant lag time. As a result, I kept overshooting or undershooting what I wanted to click on. Eventually I gave up and went back to using the standard handheld remote. Eventually, I settled in to binge watch Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted until bedtime.
Finally, there’s a wireless charging pad on the window side. I never could get it to work, though. Then again, I never have any luck with wireless charging pads.
Yes, jetBlue really does offer free WiFi to everyone on Transatlantic flights. And for the most part, they delivery with fast and reliable service. I only lost the connection for a few minutes while passing through some clouds on final approach to Gatwick.
jetBlue A321neo Mint Business Class – Food, Beverage, and Service
I mentioned at the beginning several disappointing misses on this flight. The cheap amenity kit and headphones certainly rated as disappointing. But where Mint really felt all hat, no cattle compared to the hype was in the area of meals and overall service.
Waiting on our storage tables were menus for the flight, which detailed both the dinner and breakfast selections. In theory (more on that later), jetBlue also offers espresso-based drinks, listed below the breakfast menu. As a reminder, for the main meal service, jetBlue offers a “tasting plates” concept in Mint. Passengers can select up to 3 main dishes, along with a fixed dessert. You can also ask for an express meal service, with three pre-selected items served immediately after takeoff.
Mint meals are designed by Pasquale Jones, a New York City-based Italian restaurant founded by celebrity chef Ryan Hardy. The place gets pretty good reviews from what I can tell.
A separate card contains the wine list on one side, and the soft and hard drink menu on the other. Nicely, jetBlue provides a couple of mocktail options along with the usual liquor, beer, and cocktails.
As boarding progressed, we received a choice of sparkling wine or, if i recall correctly, the Refresh Mint (a limeade made with honey and mint). I chose the sparking wine for the PDB selfie, of course. (Sorry, I know I look really creepy in this photo.)
About 20 minutes after take-off, head flight attendant César came through to take drink orders. And here’s where the little niggles started to add up. First, I asked for the “Red of the Momint” rotating house selection. I don’t know if he just misunderstood, or if jetBlue just didn’t cater this flight with more than one red, but he responded that the only option was the Bordeaux. Ok, no biggie. But while I also expected mixed tapas based on earlier reviews, we only received a bowl of (very salty) macadamia nuts. More cost cutting? Or yet another provisioning snafu?
It’s a decent lower-cost Bordeaux, a little dry but with some nice dark fruit flavors if you wait for it.
About 30 minutes later, the flight attendants served dinner selections. I ordered the field greens, the white bean soup, and the pan-roasted chicken.
I found myself really disappointed with the meal. Partially due to some issues with the dishes themselves, but also partly because the blogosphere hypes up Mint’s meal service as the greatest thing since sliced bread. I found dinner on my last transcontinental Mint flight pretty good, but this missed the mark. The salad was fine, though a huge chunk of sweet potato seems out of place in a green salad. While the white bean soup looked delicious, it was horrendously salty. As for the chicken, it suffered from a watery sauce, and was overcooked. Just not a particularly successful effort all the way around.
Dessert, though, was exceptional. The roasted pears, almond crumble, and vanilla gelato hit all the right notes. After leaving most of my dinner uneaten, I ended up wolfing all of this down.
From start to finish, dinner service took about 70 minutes to complete. That’s a little slower than ideal, though in fairness, I could have asked for the express dinner instead.
For breakfast, I asked César not to wake my, and to leave the to-go bag instead. Naively, I thought I could ask for a cappuccino. Virgin Atlantic obliged, after all, even 35 minutes before landing. No dice here, though. After waking up a little over 40 minutes to landing, I asked for one, and was rather brusquely told that the kitchen was closed and no, I couldn’t have a coffee. And he then flippantly said there’s a can of cold latte in the bag if I needed one. No, a can of cold coffee isn’t the same thing. Especially since I don’t even like cold brew or cold coffee.
Anyway, while waiting for check-in to open for my easyJet flight to Zürich, I decided to check out the to-go bag. The contents included a croissant, bottle of orange juice, and yes, a can of oat milk latte.
I actually found the croissant pretty tasty; soft, flaky, and buttery. It’s way better than the packaged stuff you usually get in a breakfast bag. The rest of the stuff? Not so much. You can buy Natalie’s orange juice for $6 a bottle at the grocery store, and it’s the most overrated stuff out there. It’s not fresh squeezed, and every time I’ve tried it, it tastes like it’s a few days past the sell-by date. And oat milk in coffee isn’t my thing (almond or coconut milk, and we can talk). Yes, this is the grumpy middle-aged dude talking, but to me, it’s an example of jetBlue trying way too hard to be hipster.
Anyway, the coffee episode really irked me, but was really a microcosm of service the entire flight. I didn’t find César particularly great. While not overly rude, he wasn’t particularly warm or helpful, either. And I don’t remember seeing or hearing from the other two Mint flight attendants at all. For an airline that markets itself as a step above service-wise, they fell way short on this flight. In fairness, my other flights in jetBlue, both in transcontinental Mint and domestic Core, featured great service by warm and friendly FAs. So I probably just drew a bad hand this time.
Sorry to disappoint, but I have no flightseeing to document, as we were in total darkness from start to finish.
I left this flight in jetBlue Mint disappointed overall. It certainly gets high marks for the seat, which is comfortable and innovative. And the cabin finishes are beautiful on these new planes. But the soft product fell way short of expectations on this flight, and there are troubling signs the airline is going cheap on the little things (though I suspect this flight wasn’t provisioned properly). And of course, the ground product isn’t great, with no lounge options for Mint passengers. I’ll give jetBlue another try, but based on this experience, I’m not impressed. You have to go out of your way to fly them from DFW, and they gave me no compelling reason to do so.