Report No: 2020-901
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Welcome to the brand new Flight-Report that I would cover JetBlue's US transcontinental Business Class product Mint onboard a new route that actually started post-COVID.
As you might realize from the flight details above, JetBlue had started operating Mint service from Newark, NJ to Los Angeles and San Francisco which meant that United would have a strong competitor against them on their premium-transcontinental routes. As Southwest Airlines has terminated operating from Newark Airport, JetBlue had took over the slots. The EWR-LAX route started with 1 daily flights in July 2020 ,and in September 2020, it was already at 3 daily flights, and in October 2020, the service would go up to 5 daily flights. Also, with this new route JetBlue is the only offers a premium-transcontinental experience on both JFK-LAX and EWR-LAX offering customers the choice of departure airport. Alaska Airlines also operates both JFK-LAX and EWR-LAX but their service on this route is nothing other than a US Domestic First service.
As JetBlue was offering $389 sale fares from/to EWR to promote their Mint service, I decided to try them out as I knew that they were both offering a decent level of service and they were also maintaining hygiene standards including blocking middle/adjacent seats. I also had the chance to mark off JetBlue Mint from my bucket list as well. When I was writing this report, it was possible to purchase $419 o/w tickets onboard EWR-SFO and EWR-LAX on JetBlue Mint for travel within 2020.
There is lot to tell in this report so I hope you enjoy it. In contrary to my previous reports, this report would have a much more detailed conclusion about what I enjoyed about JetBlue and how could they improve general customer satisfaction.
The routing for this short series with only a single report
Loads for this flight
Mint: 90% ( 9 out of 10 seats were occupied )
These statistics are based out on the amount of sold seats, it would be useful to mention that JetBlue is blocking middle seats in Economy plus, the aisle seats on Mint rows configured 2-2.
The online check-in process started with a health declaration.
And, continued by verifying the itinerary.
For this flight, to try the suites with the private door, I've pre-selected seat 2F. At the time I booked this ticket, JetBlue was not blocking aisle seats in their Mint cabin.
I was also asked how many bags I would be checking-in. For those who prefer contactless check-in, it's important to select the right amount of bags as the kiosks would only print bag-tags for the selected number of bags.
And here is the mobile boarding pass
About 1h40mins before the flight, my Lyft driver dropped me at Terminal A. It would be my first time departing from Terminal A. In the past, I've used all Terminals A, B and C for arrival and Terminals B and C for departure but not Terminal A for departure.
The JetBlue check-in counters are located at the beginning of Terminal A and the first entrance door has the shortest walk to the JetBlue check-in area.
So, here is how check-in works, A JetBlue agent welcomed me while entering the airport, he asked me to scan my boarding pass to the kiosks and the kiosks immediately printed my baggage tag; the agent tagged by bag and took it to the bag drop counter where I was handed my baggage receipt and an ID verification was made. Later on, another agent placed a Mint sign on the baggage tag and he told me that my bags would be one of the first arriving at the carousel. So, the whole process, except being handed the baggage tag was completely contactless.
After a smooth check-in process, I've realized that there were ads of the new Terminal One of Newark around the airport. The new Terminal One is scheduled to replace Terminal A which I'll be currently flying at.
Here are the FIDS for today.
As I had around 1h35 minutes and as there were almost no good facilities after security at Terminal A Concourse 1, I've decided to tour around the airport with an AirTrain ride.
During the AirTrain ride, I spotted this Alaska 737
The closed Terminal A Concourse 2
This American A321 and an Ethiopian 787 parked at a remote stand
This Spirit A321 at Terminal B
This United 787 at Terminal B
Austrian 767 at Terminal B Concourse 3.
And United aircraft at terminal C.
I got off the AirTrain at Terminal C and it was not that surprising to see that the United check-in area was more crowded compared to Terminal A.
Later on, I took the walkway to Terminal B.
For those wondering the operations at Terminal B ( the international terminal ), it's all below. Only 6 international flights from foreign airlines from 16:00 till midnight.
The international arrival traffic is much normal as some United flights and JetBlue also uses Terminal B for international arrivals.
And here is Terminal A departures where my flight would depart.
As Terminal B was empty, I decided to stop by the food court and enjoy a Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks before my flight.
After enjoying my coffee, it was time to head back to Terminal A with the AirTrain. By the way, it's not allowed to enter the terminals unless you are a passenger or an employee, however, nobody was checking anything at terminal entrances.
And here starts the second AirTrain journey of the day with photos focusing on the new Terminal One that would open soon.
After arriving at Terminal A, I tried to spot our aircraft but unfortunately, it wasn't visible from the Terminal A food court.
After arriving at Terminal A, it was time to head to security. I have recognized a priority lane but unfortunately it was closed and everyone needed to use the regular security lane. In the past, I have seen the same thing in EWR Terminal C where United had a signposted PremierAccess lane, however, the ground staff kept yelling to me that there was no priority lane.
1 out of 4 security lanes were open that day and TSA Pre lanes were closed so there was a solid 10-15 minute wait at security.
At the security corridors, the project photos of the new Terminal One were displayed.
After clearing security, it was time to head to my boarding gate. It's realizable that most facilities at Terminal A Concourse 1 were open at that time but there weren't that much options.
At that time, both flights in gate 16 and 16A were boarding at the same time so the gate area was a bit crowded. Also, as you might realize, social distancing was enforced by some of the passengers but not by some others.
Unlike American Airlines, JetBlue does not offer any kind of priority boarding and strictly boards row-by-row from the back to front. At the time I arrived at the gate, they were paging all passengers so I was allowed to board.
Here is a photo of N946JL which would take me to Los Angeles
At the gate, there was a table where passengers could have grabbed a pack that had a mini hand sanitizer and 2 hand sanitizing towels.
After being welcomed by the crew, I have went straight to my seat 2F.
As you could see, the legroom is really generous in this lie-flat seat. Plus the seat itself was comfortable.
And here is the seat panel which could be used to adjust the seat and convert it to a full-flat bed.
Before boarding, on my seat, there was a welcome letter from the crew, an amenity kit, a menu and a sleeping set which contained a blanket and a pillow.
A bottle of water was also available in the corner of the seat.
It was also nice to see 3 power outlets and 3 USB ports in a single seat. I found this was really useful and generous.
Here is the IFE system which looked a bit ancient with the resolution and interaction menu.
And here is the IFE remote
After boarding was completed the crew appeared for the first time to provide headphones.
At that time our neighbor N804JB was getting ready for its flight to Fort Lauderdale.
Before the boarding doors were closed, there was an issue back in the Economy cabin. As I wasn't able to see anything, I don't have much details but I've seen that a ground supervisor was called to solve the issue and gate agents were coming on and off the plane. If I'm not wrong, the issue was about an emotional support animal which was not fitting between the seats. In 15-20 minutes, the issue was solved and we were all set to go.
And then, this video about JetBlue's safety commitment was screened from the personal monitors.
Which was followed by a manually performed safety demo although this aircraft had personal screens.
While on ground, I was able to connect to the onboard Wi-Fi system. As you might not know, I would like to mention that onboard JetBlue flights, Wi-Fi is free of charge for all passengers and TrueBlue members get faster Wi-Fi and some other perks which are listed below.
And after we had started pushing-back, my spotting job had started.
I had the opportunity to take several photos of Terminal One, throughout our pushback and taxi.
Some other JetBlue aircraft which are parked at remote stands.
Some more Terminal One
An Ethiopian 787 which it's flight to Addis Ababa via Lome was cancelled the previous night. Later on, the aircraft ferried back to Addis Ababa, the next day I took this photo.
More of Terminal One
And cargo aircraft
After a taxi of 5 minutes, we had took-off from runway 04L.
Statue of Liberty and Staten Island
More of Manhattan
And shortly later, we were turning westbound
And while we were cruising over New Jersey, I have closed my window blind.
So, the IFE system has a route map which does ancient but it provided the necessary flight information
The route map, also reminded some of JetBlue's COVID-19 related commitments.
The IFE system had free DirecTV available.
Plus live SiriusXM music stream.
And a couple of movies and TV shows but there wasn't that much options compared to the IFE systems of the US3.
Although free fast Wi-Fi made up for the weak IFE system
Here is the speedtest results which means that the internet has good speed.
Shortly after the seatbelt signs were turned off, the crew came to ask about my drink choice and which of the meal choices I would like to have. After that he closed my suite door.
Route map from Flightradar24 at that time
By the way, here is the menu for today. Normally, JetBlue changed menus in a monthly basis but after COVID, they've reverted the change in a seasonally basis instead.
Shortly later, the crew came with my welcome taste which was a package of mixed nuts and my drink of choice: red wine.
About 10 minutes later, the crew came with my dinner tray which had my 3 main courses, ice-cream as a dessert and leaves. For those who are not familiar with JetBlue's Mint meal concept. Passengers are allowed to choose 3 main courses out of 5 offered on the menu and they would be all served in Tapas style small plates. Literally, I find this concept very nice and unique.
Main Course 1:
English Peas, Argula, Frisée, Salsa Verde
Main Course 2:
Braised Short Rib
Sushi Rice, Grilled pineapple, miso glaze
Main Course 3:
House-made tomato sauce, mozzarella, basil
And ice cream, which had a scoop of coffee, a scoop of caramel and a scoop of vanilla flavor.
All the meals were delicious and pretty good, especially in US standards.
When the crew came to collect my tray, I've asked a coffee with Bailey's which was promptly served. Due to COVID-19, all drinks are served in paper and plastic cups.
However, I would like to mention that, probably due to limiting interaction, the crew did not offered refills or water during the meal service.
After the meal, I've visited the front lavatory which was clean during my visit
And while I was returning to my seat, I asked for an orange juice from the crew, which was delivered to my seat within a minute.
Later on, I started watching the movie Bad Education; however, at some point I stopped to movie to enjoy the flat bed and get some rest. I didn't take any pictures of the bed position, however, it was comfortable and I had a great nap for an hour.
30 minutes before landing, while I was converting back my seat to relax mode, the crew realized that I woke up and asked if I needed anything, I have asked for a peppermint tea which was promptly served.
Shortly later, we were already over the LA County and we had started our preparations for our descend.
And before landing, the crew handed out Milk Bar cookies which were Blueberry Cream cookies. The cookie tasted really good.
The new SoFi stadium
And we've touched down at LAX, 15 minutes later than our scheduled arrival time.
After a short taxi, we were already at Terminal 5
And we were going to park at gate 55A.
After saying goodbye to the crew, I have left the aircraft and took the last photo of our aircraft named "This Magic NoMint"
There were not that many flights arriving at LAX Terminal 5 that night.
So, the terminal was empty
Later on, I've headed downstairs to the baggage claim hall and after a 2-3 minute wait, my bag was the first one to arrive and then I left the terminal.
As there are not that many passengers flying in/out of LAX, the airport was empty.
2 days after the flight, I have received an e-mail from JetBlue about the flight asking for feedback; the questions were generally related to the service at the ground, onboard and to the COVID measures taken onboard.
And this report has come to an end.
Thanks for reading and hope to see you in another report.
As you might realize from my trip reports, I generally fly with a Star Alliance or a oneworld member to maximize benefits from alliance frequent flyer programs. However, this time JetBlue had a really good transatlantic sale and I decided to implement a Mint flight to my Fall 2020 trip to the USA. When deciding to fly JetBlue, I was also impressed that they were both offering a good hard-product and a good soft-product at the same time.
The booking and the online check-in experience had nothing to complain about. I was able to choose a throne seat during booking easily, which was one of my goals for this flight experience.
The experience at Newark Airport was not that perfect although. I have nothing to complain about the check-in process as contactless check-in and bag drop with kiosks were available and the agents were helping customers. There were also desks available for people who like to check-in in the usual old school method.
The rest of the ground experience was nothing special. At security, no priority lane was available, although it was advertised on the JetBlue website that Mint customers could benefit from Even More Speed. It might be true that most premium travelers in the US pays for TSA Pre so airline premium lanes are not that popular, although, in this case, there wasn't any TSA Pre lane either.
Also, the airline does not offer any lounge service for their Mint customers which downgrades the experience in the airport. While American invites their premium transcontinental Flagship Business passengers to their Flagship Lounge's both at arrival and departure, JetBlue offers nothing, and passengers are limited to airport concessions ( obviously on their own expense ). I hope that JetBlue offers lounge services when they start service to London, plus JetBlue has a great opportunity to enhance the ground experience as they would be moving to the brand new Terminal One at EWR next year which could be a new era for them.
Boarding was made row-by-row, which wasn't a big deal as overhead lockers were not full at that time, however, it wasn't nice to wait at the jetbridge. By the way, offering hand sanitizers and wipes at the gate was also a nice touch.
The hard-product on the flight was actually above my expectations. The seat was really comfortable with a huge amount of space. Also, I had a great nap on the seat onboard this flight. The IFE system looked a bit ancient ( especially the route map ) and did not offer that many movies & TV shows, although live TV and live SiriusXM radio streaming could compensate that a bit; however, the best thing about the IFE is that JetBlue offers high-speed Free Wi-Fi onboard their planes while I assume that other US carriers would charge $25+ even for their premium cabin passengers. The Wi-Fi worked perfectly during most of the flight, although at some points, the speed was significantly reduced.
If we talk about the soft-product, it's really great that amenities like amenity kits, blankets and pillows are still available on flights. Plus, unlike other airlines that offers a cheese plate and snacks on the same route ( talking about Alaska Airlines ), JetBlue offered a really tasty and delicious dinner onboard this flight in hygienic conditions. Plus, the attentive and helpful crew even made the experience better by asking the passengers if they needed something. Although I would have appreciated a pre-arrival refreshment meal, maybe a small sandwich or wrap with a small cake that looks a bit more premium; however, the Milk Bar cookie that was served tasted really good but in terms of portion, it's simply a snack.
It was also nice to see that the seat was clean while I boarded the aircraft and the lavatories were kept clean throughout the flight.
Our arrival into LAX was also smooth, the taxi was short, we didn't had any "our gate is occupied so we would wait" situation and bags arrived really fast with the respect of priorities.
So, to conclude, I could tell that JetBlue is a really nice airline with both their hard-product and their soft-product. This time I haven't contacted their hotline but in the past, my experiences with B6's hotline were always painful and the agents were always nice towards customers. At the moment, JetBlue is benefitting from the situation by adding new routes, both within the US and US-Caribbean, and trying to gain new customers with competitive prices. The price I paid for this flight is completely acceptable, however, when it comes to loyalty, achieving Mosaic status on JetBlue, which requires $5000 to be spent on JetBlue each year ( or $4000 with minimum 15 JetBlue flights ) is a bit much for a single airline loyalty program. If they had status miles agreements with their overseas partners, building loyalty with JetBlue might have made sense. Also, I would like to mention that, especially on shut-eye flights, American has a huge advantage over JetBlue as they are offering a full dinner buffet at their Flagship Lounges plus a full breakfast buffet at arrival which could allow passengers to skip meals on late departures. As the food options at US airports are not the best, mostly junk food with high calories, JetBlue can work on this as well and invent a great solution. I assume that JetBlue is trying to gain customers by benefitting from Delta and United's cost-cuttings at the moment and if they do the right movements, I am sure that they could be one of the most preferred airlines in North America.
For a detailed conclusion on the flight and what JetBlue could do, please refer to the Detailed Conclusion section above in the report.
(+) Check-in wait time and touchless check-in option
(+) Hand sanitizers and wipes offered at the gate
(-) No priority security offered for Mint passengers
(+) Comfortable throne seat and the privacy of the seat.
(+) Comfort when the seat is in a bed position
(+) Dinner options and the taste of the meal
(+) Friendly and attentive crew
(+) Lavatories were kept clean throughout the flight
(+) Free high speed Wi-Fi throughout the flight
(-) The IFE system looked a bit ancient and there were not that many movie/TV show options
(+) Bags arrived really fast with the respect of priorities