En route from Los Angeles to New York City recently I managed to get a seat in the relatively new “Mint” first class cabin. (Full disclosure: Laura, obviously, works for JetBlue which gives us various flight privileges.) JetBlue just introduced its Mint class last year, and my trip was hands down the most comfortable airplane trip I’ve ever taken. Below I break down the major differences it offers over standard coach.
The Mint seats are both spacious and private feeling.
I’m about 6 feet tall, and even with the seat fully upright I could slouch and have my legs full extended. By contrast in coach, I often have to keep my legs turned to the side to avoid having my knees smashed into the seat in front of me.
Partitions between neighboring seats also make it feel remarkably secluded. I’d seen the Mint seats many times before while boarding, but it wasn’t until I sat in them that I realized how cozy they actually feel. The seats are also arrayed with a bunch of little amenities like lights, bottles of water, extra storage space, and even a massage function.
Not all of these features worked as well as I would have liked. The massage function in particular seemed to have a mind of its own; after I turned it on early in the flight I couldn’t seem to turn it entirely off and randomly it would jab me in the back. Eventually, though, it did stop. I’m not sure if the buttons weren’t working properly or if it was user error (a distinct possibility).
The best thing about the seat is that it reclines into a bed.
The seat has three general positions: upright, relax, and bed. The control panel also allows you to adjust how much the seat reclines in the latter two positions. I spent the first couple of hours in the middle setting, reclined and watching the latest Avengers movie. It was so comfortable that I almost forgot to even test out the bed mode. When I finally did fully recline the seat, I promptly fell asleep. It was spacious enough for me to lay stretched out flat on my back, which is more than I can say for some hostel beds I’ve slept in. The only weird part was sleeping so comfortably next to a stranger, as well as in full view of flight attendants who were passing by. Sleeping is an intimate act under any circumstance, but it’s even more so when you’re effectively tucked into bed (as opposed to sitting mostly upright in coach.) Mint seats include a full sized pillow and a duvet, both of which were very comfortable.
The food was decent.
Like other premium flight services, Mint includes a number of wine options. I was also offered a signature cocktail. Drinks aren’t much of a selling point to me personally, but I know they’re a big deal for many people who fly. The food itself was fine. I was flying in the morning, so we had the breakfast menu, which included three main courses, a role, and a dessert. I got the burrito, the french toast, and the frittata.
The dessert included both a bowl of fruit and sorbet. The thing with this food was that it clearly rose above standard airplane fare, but I also didn’t love any of it. It was kind of like when you go to a nice restaurant and you know you should like the food, but the flavors just don’t do anything for you. I liked the burrito and the frittata, but found them both a bit bland for my tastes. The french toast was garnished with dried fruit that didn’t really work.
The TV screen was bigger, and we all got nice headphones.
JetBlue pioneered in-air TV, and in Mint those TVs are bigger than in coach. Moreover, movies are included in Mint, whereas only TV is free in coach. My one complaint about JetBlue entertainment options — and this isn’t limited to Mint — is that you can’t choose when to start movies and TV shows. Rather than navigating a menu and selecting options, it’s more like flipping through channels and picking something that’s already playing. By contrast, I flew on two other airlines (in coach) the same week that also had seat back TVs, and which let me start and stop movies whenever I wanted. One really cool thing about Mint, though, was that they gave us these really nice headphones to use during flight:
The headphones had fantastic base and blocked out far more sound than the earbuds I had been using.
So is it worth it?
And as with first class generally, it’s probably always worth it if you can afford it. For those of us who aren’t rich, however, it’s a tougher question. I just checked fares about a month out and the cheapest Mint option was $599, verses $210 for regular seats. In my case, I try to travel as cheaply as possible so that I can do it often, so I’m generally reluctant to pay any more than I have to. That said, if I were the kind of person who splurges on travel, or who isn’t as concerned with saving up to go on numerous trips, Mint’s relatively affordability compared to other airlines’ premium seats could well be worth the price. — Jim Dalrymple II