Review: JetBlue A321 Mint Suite New York JFK – San Francisco

Review: JetBlue A321 Mint Suite New York JFK – San Francisco

JetBlue Mint Suite JFK-SFO

Earlier this year I was planning my August trip home to the States and decided to spend a couple days in New York before heading home to San Francisco. This would give me the opportunity to see my East Coast friends (a region I avoid like the plague during thewinter) and to fly JetBlue’s Mint premium product.

Many of the bloggers and travel experts I respect have rated this as the best transcontinental premium product (save perhaps American’s true First Class on their Airbus A321T). It’s clearly been popular, as well, because JetBlue has rapidly expanded the availability of Mint from the initial JFK-LAX/SFO routes to a much wider – and growing – network.

Courtesy JetBlue.com

I was able to take advantage of Mint’s advanced low-fare $599 one-way price, and selected seat 4A – one of the “Mint Suites” that have a sliding door. Aside from the premium on-board hard & soft products, Mint passengers get access to dedicated check-in desks, priority security queues and boarding and all of JetBlue’s in-flight entertainment and broadband wifi free of charge. Suffice it to say I’d been eagerly anticipating this flight for quite some time.

Check-in at JFK, Airspace Lounge

I arrived a couple hours early at a very busy New York JFK Terminal 5, JetBlue’s home base. Given I hadn’t flown out of there in some years, I wanted to make sure I had plenty of time to get myself sorted before boarding. After exiting the Uber, I found the dedicated entrance for Mint passengers and entered into what I thought would be a relaxing, welcoming atmosphere. I was wrong.

Chaos.

Not just in the terminal, but the two – yes, two – check-in desks for all Mint passengers. The early morning rush meant there was a queue to check bags, as well. I waited and was finally seen by a lovely team member, who printed my boarding pass. At that stage, I’d decided not to check my bag and just carry-on. The TSA Pre-Check line was busy but moved fairly quickly.

From there I found my way to the Airspace Lounge, which I entered free of charge with my American Express Platinum card (please note that this is a referral link). The lounge is open to any passengers willing to pay USD25.00, and comes with USD10.00 worth of credit for items on the menu.

The lounge is operated by Swissport. Its small and a bit claustrophobic, but the chairs are comfortable, charging ports are in abundance, and the bar is large and wide enough to eat a proper meal at. The staff were friendly and the service was efficient. I had a very good breakfast sandwich during my visit. Notably, they served one of my favorite whisky blends, Johnnie Walker Green Label.

JetBlue Airbus A321 at LAX

JetBlue Mint, New York – San Francisco

B6 415
JFK-SFO
D: 09.25
A: 12.49
Mint Suite, 4F
Airbus A321T
N692JT

Boarding began 45 minutes ahead of schedule, with Mint and Mosaic (JetBlue’s frequent flyer program) passengers leading the way.

Boarding was complete by 09.15 and the Captain came on to say we’d be pushing back ten minutes later, with a flight time of 5hr39min.

The Seat

Irish design firm Vantage developed the seat, which, for JetBlue, are arranged in an alternating 2-2, 1-1 arrangement where rows 1, 3 and 5 have four seats and rows 2 and 4 have two.

My first impression was that it was a spacious, comfortable area to spend 6 hours. When I sat down, though, I felt differently (pun intended). There was no cushion whatsoever, it was like sitting down on metal. For five and a half hours.

Furthermore, on closer inspection the seat showed signs of wear and tear and was not properly cleaned. But there was plenty of storage for small items and three power plugs. The screen is a decent size – I’d like it to have been larger but as you can see below the dimensions are limited by the seats in front of the suite.

I used the pillow and blanket to cushion my rear

Storage compartment

I should note that the main storage compartment can fit a large mobile phone or small iPad and some smaller items, but nothing larger. While there is plenty of surface space in the Mint Suite, there aren’t any larger storage compartments. Given that you’ve unimpeded access to the overhead bins, this isn’t a serious problem.

There is a “Relax” mode but it moves the seat too far forward – the leg portion has versatility as far as being raised up or down but the back of the seat does not.

The Service

As soon as I was settled, crew member Jamia welcomed me on board by introducing herself and the purser, Zach. She handed me a “NourishMint” Menu – inspired by Saxon+Parole – and gave me an amenity kit, which was quite standard in terms of content.

Jamia explained that of the five items on offer, I could choose three.

 

Mint Grey Goose Welcome Drink and Note from the Cabin Crew

She brought me a welcome cocktail, which was a refreshing blend of Grey Goose Vodka, lemon juice, honey and mint. Despite the early departure time, most other Mint passengers also had a drink (perhaps because it was a Sunday!).

We pushed-back at 09.23 and took off from Runway 31L thirteen minutes later.

The touch screen & IFE were easy to navigate but definitely already dated and slow to respond to commands.

The Service

The service was slow to start, with Zach bringing the first round of drinks just over an hour into the flight. I asked to taste the white wines, which he was happy to arrange. The white wines on offer were the Schramsberg Reserve Brut (2007, North Coast) and the Matthiasson Linda Vista Vineyard Chardonnay (2016, Napa). They also had a Bedrock Ode to Lulu Rosé (2016, California) and a Broc Cellars Valdiguié (2016, Green Valley). 

The Schramsberg wasn’t chilled enough and was too sweet for my taste buds. The Chardonnay wasn’t bad, also not chilled enough. I wasn’t in the mood for red so early in the morning, so I opted for the Rosé.

Just after 11.00, the food started coming out. I had selected the Fresh Fruit, Chorizo Spoonbread and Baked Egg Hollandaise (the other two dishes on offer were the Greek Yogurt and Grilled Asparagus).

I’m happy to report that the bread was warm. The fruit was tasty, but the other two main dishes were rather sweet. I don’t have a sweet tooth so it was disappointing.

The crew were quick to clear the trays, which I appreciated. I slept for a couple hours (it’d been a long night out) and when I woke up, Zach was at my door offering coffee.

An hour and a half before arrival, the crew came around with the traditional JetBlue whicker basket of snacks, which included fruit, crisps, crackers and chips (among other things).

The Arrival

The captain came on at 11.50 local, estimating an arrival of 12.10/12.15, just as the crew were passing out rainbow cookies from The Milk Bar. The cookie was soft and delicious!

We landed at 12.15 and were on stand within ten minutes.

The Cheatline

The food and beverages were sweet and the seat was hard as a rock, but I’m told this was a one-off problem (others have not had this issue).

What I did like was the variety of options presented, the mixed welcome cocktail and the space and privacy of the Mint Suite. The crew were friendly and welcoming.

Seat: 7/10
Service: 8/10
Food: 8/10
Spirits: 7/10
Overall: 8/10

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *