Let’s all take a moment and think back to happier times. By happier times, I mean March 2016.
TV viewers were ravenously consuming episodes of “House of Cards” as if they were artisanal doughnuts. The country came together as one to condemn and chide the atrocious film “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” More importantly, something new landed at Logan Airport.
In March 2016 Jetblue introduced its new Mint service between Boston and San Francisco. A Los Angeles route debuted shortly thereafter. Mint is Jetblue’s version of business class, and it features first-class amenities at the bargain price tag of $599 — depending on when and where you book. That’s more expensive than most economy flights, but often less than premium seats on other airlines.
First for the disclaimer: Jetblue didn’t give me free Mint seats to write this story. They didn’t give me anything. I’m just a satisfied customer who thought it was time to point my flashlight at something positive in a year that has otherwise been filled with a lot of dark, horrible stories about air travel.
There’s good news for Boston Mint fans. Jetblue is expanding the number of Mint flights out of the city next year.
Even before the advent of Mint, I’d always been a Jetblue fanboy. As it grew through the 2000s, the company put an emphasis on customers in a way its competitors didn’t. Who among us hasn’t salivated for Terra Chips when the snack basket is passed, or devoured a bag of animal crackers? Jetblue also deserves kudos for its freshly remodeled terminal at Logan, which is among the nicest at the airport.
If you’re not splurging on the Mint category, the airline still offers a generous amount of legroom in coach. It gives 32 inches between the back of your seat to the back of the seat in front of you. That distance is called the seat pitch. Virgin America, which was purchased by Alaska Air in 2016, also gives 32 inches. The worst offenders, and, no surprises here, are Spirit and Frontier.
I had my first taste of Mint service on a flight to Barbados last year. It was off-season, and Barbados was a much shorter flight than the West Coast, so I paid a bargain rate of $300-something. It departed in the morning, so I didn’t get a chance to nap, but I had an opportunity to try out its many other amenities.
You’re offered a minty beverage, with or without booze, shortly after boarding. Instead of a heavy meal, you can choose from small plates created by Michelin-starred chef Brad Farmerie. If you’re headed west this month, some of the lunch and dinner options include heirloom tomato and peach salad, grilled rib eye, and piri piri scallops. The wine list is curated by award-winning wine columnist Jon Bonné.
I’ll stop raving in a minute, but it’s important to point out that the 8-foot massaging seats can lie flat and are the largest of any American business-class planes. I’m also a fan of the configuration. If you’re flying solo, you can reserve a suite (which is a single seat over two rows). It even has a small door you can pull shut for bedtime privacy.
Next year Mint adds flights from Boston to Las Vegas and Seattle. You can book those seats now. The Vegas Mint seats are available at $599 one way, Seattle seats are available for $549.
I appreciated Mint the few times I flew it between Boston and Los Angeles. But my favorite Mint moment came when I was returning home from Australia, and the final leg of my journey was a red-eye from Los Angeles and Boston. I bought a suite with miles, so there was no guilt, grabbed my duvet and pillow, and collapsed into deep, post-international-date-line sleep. When I woke up in the morning, there was a little to-go bag waiting for me with breakfast inside.
I can’t think of another time that I had been so grateful for a bed to sleep in, a breakfast in a bag, and a little door that I could slide shut for a few glorious hours of rest.