Jetblue is an American low-cost airline with a focus on transcontinental and Caribbean flights. In recent years, the airline has made a name for itself primarily through the comparatively generous seat spacing in economy class and its Mint business class.
On this continent, however, we had no JetBlue flights for a long time, but the airline has since ordered some long-haul jets to fly across the Atlantic. Scheduled flights to London have been offered since 2021, with other routes and destinations to follow.
Travel Dealz Editor Peer tested the Mint class on the Airbus A321LR on a London-Gatwick to New York-JFK flight. Read below to see if Jetblue can live up to the high expectations.
Table of Contents
Before we start with the experiences, first a look at the flight details:
- Flights: B6 44 London-Gatwick
LGW– New York
- Seat: 4F
- Plane: Airbus A321neo LR (N4058J)
(delivered August 2021)
- Scheduled time of departure: 12:00
- Scheduled time of arrival: 15:49
- Flight duration: 8h 49min
- Month: December 2021
I had booked my ticket as a multi-stop trip. Unfortunately, this was not possible directly with JetBlue, but only with various OTAs.
Sadly, either due to the multi-stop booking or due to Covid regulations, I was not able to complete the online check-in. Accordingly, I was not able to select my seat within 24 hours before departure. Ultimately, that wasn’t a major obstacle: Except for row 1, the seats are all identical anyway.
JetBlue had already informed me in the morning that the inbound flight would be delayed by around 90 minutes. The reason for this was a 4-hour delay on the outbound flight, which was significantly shortened by sufficient buffer time in London. Accordingly, I made my way to London Gatwick relatively late and arrived at the North Terminal about 2 hours before the original departure time.
The signs there were unsatisfactory. Since the first flight in August 2021, apparently, nobody found it necessary to signal the way to the check-in counter. I found the JetBlue counter after 5 minutes of searching in the left wing of the terminal:
Two employees were already waiting in front of the counters to check the Covid documents. Then, as a business class guest, they referred me to the Mint counter, and I was able to sort out the formalities there. I was asked about the negative Covid test, a vaccination card and the passenger attestation form (which must be filled out digitally via QR code). There was no waiting time for either economy or business class passengers.
From that point on, the Mint experience suddenly felt like a budget airline again. The staff and boarding pass didn’t mention anything about a fast track for security, so I didn’t even try it. JetBlue’s passengers also don’t have a lounge available (regardless of whether they have a status or a business ticket). However, I was aware of this before departure, and it was not an exclusion criterion. Nevertheless, I would have wished for at least a small meal voucher.
Luckily, I was able to visit the Plaza Premium Lounge with my Amex Platinum. This lounge was a pleasant surprise, with plenty of space and à la carte service
Delay & Communication
With a portion of fish & chips in the Plaza Premium Lounge, I was able to observe the events surrounding the delay in a more relaxed manner. What is certain for me is that JetBlue has not exactly covered itself in glory when it comes to communication. Within only a few minutes, I noticed three different departure times:
- The monitor at Gatwick Airport stated 13:30
- The Jetblue website said departure was at 14:45
- An email from Jetblue informed me that the flight would depart at around 15:30
In the meantime, there was even talk of the arrival in New York being delayed by more than four hours. I sensed compensation of €600 in accordance with air passenger rights, but unfortunately (or fortunately?) it didn’t go that far: we finally reached New York with a delay of a little over two hours.
Ultimately, boarding started around 90 minutes after the scheduled departure time. First, Mint business class passengers and frequent flyers with Mosaic status were asked to board the plane. I was a little surprised when I noticed that only one other passenger used pre-boarding. The other passengers would probably do some more shopping and then follow.
I gratefully accepted the welcome drink (for me a non-alcoholic “sparkling wine” made from berries) and, out of interest, asked how many other business passengers were still coming. Answer: None. I’d be the only passenger in Mint and I should make myself comfortable.
I did not expect that. After all, London – New York is an important route for business travellers and in economy class about every second seat was occupied.
A bit overwhelmed by the news, I asked if I could move to row 1. The Mint Studio is located there (1A and 1F) with more generous space. But I could not use these seats. After all, they would come with a hefty surcharge (at check-in US$299 (~€277) each way).
On the one hand, I can somewhat understand the decision. JetBlue charges a surcharge for this, and a free upgrade might send false signals. On the other hand, they could have made an exception in a completely empty business class. Even when flying with Swiss, the throne seat can be selected free of charge at check-in.
In any case, before we were ready to take off, the welcome drink was refilled three times. A foretaste of the highly attentive service that was to accompany me for the next few hours.
But first, let’s return from service to the seat. There are a total of 136 seats on JetBlue’s A321LR: 2 Mint Studios in the first row, 22 Mint Suites behind and finally 114 Economy Class seats. Incidentally, the latter offer at least 81 cm seat spacing – a little more than is usual with the transatlantic competition (76 – 79 cm).
When entering the aircraft, you immediately notice how modern the cabin is designed. Supported by the harmonious lighting, the cabin seemed downright futuristic to me:
The business class seating arrangement is 1-1 in a herringbone style. The seats are therefore arranged in the direction of flight and face the aisle. Unfortunately, this makes it difficult to look out of the window, but every seat has access to the aisle. However, this is not ideal for couples and families – because there are only seats next to each other in economy class.
As mentioned, the seats in the 22 Mint Suites are all identical. It is possible that passengers in the first rows will hear a little more noise from the galley, and in the last rows from economy class. A “best seat” can therefore not be chosen. Unless, of course, you’re willing to shell out over €200 for a front-row Mint Studio.
JetBlue is installing Thompson Vantage Solo Mint business class seats, making it the launch customer of this new seat. The seat was specially designed for use in narrow bodies and is likely to be found on other airlines in the future.
In any case, after boarding, business class guests are greeted by the following sight:
When seated, the whole thing looks relatively cramped. Although I don’t have excessively broad shoulders, I still felt restricted in my freedom of movement. It doesn’t get any better with the shoulder strap on. But luckily, the extra belt only needs to be worn during takeoff and landing.
Unfortunately, the armrests are not retractable. The available space remains small even in the lounge position.
Otherwise, JetBlue and Thompson Aero Seating (the seat manufacturer) have thought of all sorts of details. The electronic seat adjustment is implemented twice and allows the seat position to be adjusted easily and steplessly
There is no lack of storage space. Just make sure you don’t forget anything when you get out.
By the window, there is a small, triangular storage compartment for e.g. a charger. A wide drawer is hidden under the foldable touchscreen, which is also perfect for larger laptops. And if all that is not enough, there is still a fabric basket in the leg area, where the slippers were initially stowed away.
There is also space for all kinds of items on the wide shelf between the passenger and the door. In my case amenity kit, drinks, charger and snacks.
The table is extended from the side and reveals another nice detail: it represents the Mint business class logo:
Overall, the table is rather small, but this is not so important due to the generous shelves. At least I got a laptop with a mouse on it without any problems. Unfortunately, an important function has been forgotten: the table cannot be adjusted, neither forwards nor backwards. So I could only eat upright and not in the relaxed, slightly reclined position. Working with the laptop is also a bit more difficult.
Finally, I would like to talk briefly about the door. It is initially locked and must first be unlocked by the crew.
Many passengers nowadays love such a door, and JetBlue also has one. For me, it’s nice to have, but not a deal-breaker: Due to the sloping position of the seats, you wouldn’t look the other person in the eye anyway, but at most could see his legs. However, it clearly limits the sense of space, so I left it open most of the time.
The seats convert into a fully flat bed, measuring around 193 cm. Of course, there are more important things on a westbound daytime flight, but I would like to say a few words about sleeping comfort.
The blanket and the pillow are very comfortable. They don’t quite measure up to United’s bedding, but that’s grumbling at a high level. There are instructions showing that the blanket can also be used as a cape or vest. To me, however, it was a normal blanket. A seat cover is missing, as you sleep directly on the seat’s cushion.
As far as the bed above the clouds goes, unfortunately, the seat didn’t knock my socks off. As a side sleeper, I didn’t have enough space for my shoulders and knees, the latter being essential for me since my legs (at 1.98 m tall) only fit into the seat at an angle. The footwell is also rather narrow. It was enough for a two-hour nap, but nothing more.
Overall, I slept more comfortably in business class with SAS or Avianca than with Jetblue. Nevertheless, the sleeping comfort is okay, especially on the short flight time to the east.
Food & Drinks
Let’s come to a point where JetBlue really impressed me: the onboard catering. As mentioned above, the onboard service began with the welcome drink.
A few minutes after take-off, my drink requests were taken. There were various wines, liqueurs and cocktails to choose from, as can be seen from the drinks menu below. As usual, I limited myself to a glass of Coke Zero. This arrived along with a small appetizer platter of warm nuts, olives, and artichokes:
The menu was at the seat from the start and explained exactly how the service would work: I could choose three out of five dishes for lunch (two of them cold).
The choices were:
- Wedge salad with parmigiano, buttermilk dressing, and lemon
- Broccoli with pepper and citrus breadcrumbs
- Lasagna with kale, spinach, tomatoes, and ricotta
- Farm chicken with mushrooms
- Lamb curry with fingerling potatoes and potato crumble
I chose the salad, the lasagna, and chicken breast (1st + 3rd + 4th). It didn’t take long for the filled tray to arrive either:
I find the concept of freely selectable dishes very interesting at JetBlue. If I was starving, I could have just ordered three main courses and skipped the salad. Above all, it is the quality that convinced me. The dishes were all superb, but the chicken really was restaurant quality. With other airlines, chicken dishes are often overcooked and dry. Everything was just right here.
In addition to the ordered food, a bun with sea salt and olive oil was brought. A choice of buns did not exist. Other airlines do this better, but it didn’t really bother me.
There were two options for dessert:
- Vanilla gelato with lemon and pistachio crunch
- Cheese plate with cheddar
The following conversation made me laugh:
- Flight attendant: “Which dessert would you like today?”
- Me: “Could I have both?”
- Flight attendant: “You could have eight, if you want”
So the catering could have easily accommodated a few last-minute bookers. Two portions were enough for me:
The desserts were also excellent. I just think the cheese plate could use a little more cheese, maybe. I also had the snack basket to myself. Luckily, it was packed with Sweet & Salty Popcorn, which I had come to appreciate on a BA flight. There was also a choice of Cadbury chocolate and shortbread. So typically British.
Small snacks were served 90 minutes before landing. It was again possible to choose freely, but this time only two out of three options:
- Salad with tomatoes, parmigiano, basil, and pistachio
- Celery root soup with potatoes
- Panini with salami, cheddar, and fontina
None of it really appealed to me, so I just ordered a panini. It was OK, but couldn’t compete with the main courses:
What amazes me is that the whole selection of dishes apparently only very rarely rotates, as the menu stated that it was the menu for westbound transatlantic flights for autumn + winter 2021/22. If you take the flights more often, you might want more variety.
All in all, the onboard service is a clear plus point for JetBlue. The chicken was some of the best plane food I’ve ever eaten.
As soon as the crew was allowed to get up again after takeoff, I was asked if I needed something from the overhead compartment. A nice touch that seems to be common practice at JetBlue. At least the same thing was offered on the New York – London outbound flight a month earlier – although that flight was significantly fuller.
Since I was the only passenger in business class on my flight, I was of course particularly well looked after. It almost felt like I was flying first class (which JetBlue doesn’t even have). I was constantly asked if I wanted another drink refilled or anything else. All of this without being intrusive.
There was also a short chat with the crew. Among other things, I learned that a flight with only one guest in business class was a novelty even for the crew. So the booking situation is usually not quite as dramatic as it was on my flight.
Even if I am only rating the flight from London to New York here, I would like to say a few words about the outbound flight NYC → LGW. The crew there was also very friendly, but the food service was unbearably slow. It took an hour and a half before I finally got my food. After dessert, more than two hours had passed, leaving only two and a half hours until breakfast. Next time I will definitely order the quick dinner where all the food is served on one tray. Looking at the other passengers, however, this option seems to only have been a maximum of 15 minutes faster.
The touchscreens on the regular business class seats measure 17 inches diagonally (22″ in the Mint Studio). They have to be folded in and out manually and can therefore not be used during takeoff and landing. That’s in theory, at least. The acceleration during takeoff automatically opened my screen (and many others). So the system doesn’t seem very well thought-through. But maybe that’s not a bug, it’s a feature.
When it comes to content, JetBlue is on a high level. I counted 221 films in total and took the opportunity to watch the latest James Bond (No Time to Die) with a few bags of popcorn. There were also various series, games and music. In theory, live TV is also available, but unfortunately not on my flight.
A flight map is of course also available. It can either be used in full-screen mode (various settings possible) or as a small overlay on the edge of the screen. On my flight, I was thus able to follow closely as we took an unusual route over Greenland due to the strong winds. Unfortunately, there is no outdoor camera.
The entire entertainment system is very responsive and has been given a nice touch of paint. It is even possible to use the smartphone as a remote control for the entertainment system. Alternatively, there is a physical remote control in place. But this is placed quite unfavourably. I accidentally hit the crew call button several times.
The headphones offer active noise cancellation and are from Master & Dynamic. The brand is unknown to me, but the sound quality and comfort were good.
A big plus on all JetBlue flights is the free high-speed Wi-Fi. It doesn’t matter whether it’s from New York to Boston or across the Atlantic.
Unfortunately, “all flights” doesn’t quite apply. Shortly before departure, it was said that there might be problems with the Wi-Fi on the flight. And that was an accurate statement: The Wi-Fi was not available for the entire flight. The crew tried in vain to reset the connection and restart it, but nothing helped. For me, who actually wanted to work a few hours, this was very unfavourable.
Luckily, I was able to test the Wi-Fi on the New York → London outbound flight, where it worked flawlessly. The speeds were really impressive: I achieved download speeds of more than 40 Mbit/s downstream. The upload might not be able to keep up, but it’s still impressive for a plane Wi-Fi:
On my London-New York flight, I would have preferred a slow but working Wi-Fi. But in principle, such failures can always happen. The fact that the internet doesn’t work at all seems to be the exception. The flight attendants confirmed this to me.
Apart from the points mentioned above, JetBlue has thought of various extras:
- There are two sockets and USB ports on each seat.
- Between the seat and the window there is a non-slip surface with Qi functionality for wireless charging of the smartphone. Nice idea, but you have to hit the charging point very precisely for it to work.
- There is a small mobile phone holder in the side table.
- In business class, too, each seat has its own air vent to regulate the temperature individually.
- There are two hooks next to the socket for winding up charging cables. That way, the laptop power supply doesn’t lie all over the seat. However, I would never have figured out how the hooks work on my own – I only became aware of it through a video in the IFE system.
- The amenity kit is not particularly inspiring. The cardboard packaging looks cheap, but at least it doesn’t produce a lot of waste. The content is fine
- There is a pair of quite comfortable slippers on the seat. However, pajamas are only available in the Mint Studio, which is subject to a surcharge.
One negative thing I noticed was that the seat belt sign stayed on throughout the flight. However, there was hardly any turbulence. In my opinion, this behaviour only contributes to the fact that the seat belt sign is no longer taken seriously. Unfortunately, I experience this all the time with US airlines (but not only there).
The Mint Studio
Since I had the whole business class to myself, I made sure to drop by the front row of the Mint Studio. The crew had no objections, only I wasn’t allowed to sit there for a long time (as already mentioned).
Immediately noticeable is that the Mint Studio is significantly more spacious than the regular Mint Suites. While the regular business class seats feel cramped, there’s space in all directions in the Mint Studio. I am sure that this also eliminates the biggest criticism of sleeping comfort. Mint Studio guests receive an extra pillow, extra amenity kit and pyjamas too. There is also the option of eating for two in a “studio”, even if it gets quite cosy.
The Mint Studio would not be worth the €250 surcharge per direction. Most passengers seem to see it that way. On the outbound New York → London flight, nobody wanted to pay the surcharge and so the two free studios were apparently given to non-rev passengers (probably crew with a standby ticket). And on the return flight, I was the only business guest anyway.
- Check-in & Boarding
- In-Flight Entertainment
I had high expectations for JetBlue’s business class across the Atlantic and they were mostly met. The service was extremely attentive (which of course was also due to the occupancy). The food is probably the best I’ve ever seen in a business class. The cabin looks sleek and modern and the seat itself is well thought out.
Overall, however, it seems a bit cramped, which is particularly noticeable during sleep. With SAS or in the British Airways Club Suite, the space available for a passenger is simply larger. Now that might be a bit of an unfair comparison as the A350 and Boeing 777 offer far more space than a narrow body. But in the end, I can freely choose between JetBlue, BA, etc. and an airline has to measure itself against the alternatives. There are further negatives, regarding the insufficient communication regarding the delay and the lack of lounge access.
All of this is complaining on a high level. I would fly with JetBlue again anytime if the price is right. But JetBlue will not achieve the title “best business class in the world” with the Mint Suites in the A321LR, while they possibly might with their 1st-row seats.
Translated by Ditmar Lange