Flyers looking for premium service to the West Coast have a new option – this spring, JetBlue launched its Mint service to San Francisco, complete with lie-flat beds, 15-inch entertainment screens and fresh espresso from a cappuccino machine purposely built for the carrier – a first in the U.S.
“We designed Mint knowing that travelers in so-called premium cabins weren’t being offered much more than a premium price,” says Jamie Perry, vice president brand and product development, JetBlue. “We believed we could do it better and at a price that gives more customers access.”
For starters, when a flier purchases Mint service, a spokesperson says it will be consistent on each flight – the airline is rolling out the amenity-laden product in conjunction with new Airbus A321 planes, so the experience should not vary from flight to flight.
The hip, posh highlights start while the plane is still on the ground, Mint passengers are greeted with a custom cocktail, along with an amenity bag curated by trendy beauty and grooming retailer Birchbox, and a duvet and pillow for snuggling up. The seats offer a variety of thoughtful storage compartments for tucking away electronic devices and smartphones, as well as two electrical outlets.
Special attention was given to the tapas-style meal offerings, crafted by Michelin-starred chef Brad Farmerie. He spent the better part of a year developing the menu of small plates, taking into account both the limitations of in-flight meal service and the way palates are affected by hurtling through the sky at 30,000 feet, in a quest to improve upon the mediocre fare generally on offer.
By all accounts, he has succeeded. Mint passengers enjoy a variety of the most popular dishes from Farmerie’s restaurant, Saxon+Parole in New York, as well as some treats unique to JetBlue, like Dairy-free Tomato Soup with chunks of local lobster, reated specifically for flights leaving Boston.
Even crafting a perfect medium rare burger took a lot of time. The chef’s team starts with the same 28-day, dry aged beef that Farmerie uses at his restaurant, charring it on a grill but finishing it sous vide to guarantee no loss of juice, then “insulating” the burger with a layer of bacon onion jam, and wrapping it again in cheese, making layers that prevent the burger from being overcooked when heated in the air.
“Small details, but as with all of the dishes the devil is in the details, and that is the difference between airline food and JetBlue MINT food,” Farmerie says.
In addition to burgers and soup, passengers can also enjoy Five-Spiced Braised Short Ribs with Polenta, Truffled Mushroom Mousse with Whisky Jelly (a Saxon+Parole signature dish) and for brunch, Chicken and Waffles. “Our version is unique and unexpected so you need to fly to find out!” Farmerie says, adding that guests on the overnight flight are offered a takeaway of the Cheddar Biscuit Sandwich with chicken sausage and cheese off the plane with them. “Most guests sleep through the flight so it is a great touch that makes a lasting impression,” Farmerie says.
While it’s undeniable that patrons at the front of the aircraft are luxuriating in the Mint delicious food and other Mint amenities, the new Airbus A321 planes offer niceties for those traveling in “Core” economy class seats as well. Newly redesigned seats have adjustable headrests, in-seat power outlets, and seatback drink holders that allow the tray table to stay folded. Not to mention free “Fly-Fi” wi-fi and the most legroom in coach.
While Mint is currently limited to the Boston-San Francisco route, this fall will bring added Mint service to Los Angeles and Barbados