JetBlue Mint Review: JFK to SFO
Finally. After years of travel over which I’ve logged more than half a million miles in the air, I was able to enjoy JetBlue Mint. To say it was a long time coming would be an understatement. It’s been on the list of cabins to fly for ages.
Top top things off, the trip was also an incredible value, thanks to the recent Delta-to-JetBlue status match offer. And it didn’t disappoint. Flying JetBlue A321 Mint is an excellent way to cross the country.
I booked a standard Blue fare, one-way from New York – John F. Kennedy (JFK) to San Francisco (SFO) for a mere 8,000 TrueBlue points and $5.60. A Tuesday in November is not an especially popular day to fly, so prices were low. It was a deal to get me home after spending a long weekend on the East Coast.
But I hoped for more. As part of being granted Mosaic 3 status via the Delta status match, I was provided four Move to Mint certificates. My hope was that one an upgrade would clear. Obviously, it did. But even if it hadn’t, I would have enjoyed an Even More Space seat for free, thanks to holding elite status. Mint is better. Far better.
- Flight: jetBlue 815
- Aircraft: Airbus A321
- Date: November 7, 2023
- Seat: Mint 4A
- Origin: New York (JFK)
- Destination: San Francisco (SFO)
Another perk of holding Mosaic 3 is getting priority for the “throne” seats. JetBlue’s Mint cabin is unique, with a staggered seating layout. Of the 16 Mint seats on the A321, only four are solo “throne” seats. I’d not expected to get one of these. But my Move to Mint cleared me into seat 4A. Double score.
John F. Kennedy International is not my favorite airport in the world. I’ve been there a handful of times, most often at Terminal 7. But it’s well connected. As has been the case for literally every trip, I arrived via the AirTrain.
JetBlue operates out of Terminal 5. They more or less own it. Not literally, of course. But Cape Air is the only other airline based there. As a side note, T5 is also the AirTrain stop for the TWA Hotel.
There are two dedicated check-in areas for Mint and Mosaic passengers, one near each end of the hall. You can’t miss them. The signs are obvious. Given that I’d already checked in online and didn’t have any checked luggage, I didn’t use them.
The main hall has a somewhat nonstandard layout. There are check in kiosks scattered at each end, with full-service desks nearby. There are dedicated bag drop stations as well. JetBlue ideally wants you to do all the work — checking in, tagging your bag, and then dropping it on a conveyor. The queues are minimal.
Speaking of minimal queues, the PreCheck line was wonderfully short. I was through security in two minutes flat.
I wandered. Given that I hadn’t eaten since 12:45 PM, and my flight didn’t depart until after 8:00 PM, I also grabbed dinner. My hope was to make it until the JetBlue Mint meal service, but that didn’t happen. The in-flight food was way better than the Mexican food I used to tide me over.
With an hour to kill until boarding, I knuckled down to work. JetBlue doesn’t operate any lounges, either for elites or for their Mint customers. This is one of the few downsides to flying their premium cabin across the country or to Europe.
Boarding and Initial Impressions
Boarding time arrived, and I was confused. Nothing seemed to be happening at the gate. Then I realized the flight had been switched from Gate 8 to Gate 9. It revealed a major gripe I have about the JetBlue app: the assigned gate does not update in real time. I’m too used to the United and Delta apps that provide you up-to-date info.
I then witnessed an air travel miracle: there were no gate lice. The Mint and Mosaic group was called as I approached the new gate, and passengers were getting up and queuing as I arrived. No one else was hanging around getting in the way. It was remarkable.
A flight attendant greeted me warmly as I boarded. I was excited, having wanted to fly JetBlue Mint for so long. The cabin was exactly as I’d imagined, mood lighting and all. It’s always cool to see lie-flat seats on a narrow-body aircraft. My most recent trip in such a cabin was flying American A321T Flagship First Class.
After most of the passengers had boarded, the two JetBlue Mint flight attendants offered pre-departure beverages. There’s only one way to start the trip off right: an iconic Mint Condition cocktail. It’s delicious.
The flight attendant passed or headsets after boarding was fully complete, followed by taking our dinner orders. Both flight attendants I interacted with were pleasant, cheerful, and professional.
To my delight, our flight departed on time. One of my worries flying JetBlue is their on-time performance. Theirs is the worst among major U.S. airlines. I’d already picked a late flight. Getting to the Bay Area in the wee hours of the morning would have been brutal after being on East Coast time for four days.
JetBlue Mint “Throne” Seat
The JetBlue Mint throne seat was everything I’d hoped it would be. It offers so much space and far more privacy than the standard Mint seats. Every seat has a reading light and power outlet, plus a shoe storage slot. You’ll also find a water bottle, bedding, and an amenity kit in a brown paper package.
The throne seats offer much more. You’ll have multiple additional power outlets to keep your devices charged, plus a large area between the seat and the window. There’s a storage compartment. The JetBlue Mint throne seat even offers a door that slides closed, giving you a completely private experience.
The tray table slides out of a slot next to the seat, folding down into place. I like the design. It is study for a table with only one supporting arm.
I found the seat to be reasonably comfortable in lie-flat mode. The seat and footwell are both relatively narrow. If you are tall or have especially large feet, it’s likely to be downright uncomfortable.
JetBlue is a bit different with how they do meals. Rather than your typical menu with starter, main, and dessert options, you can pick from a selection of small plates. You’re invite to pick up to three of five options. Orders were taken before takeoff. I went with the shrimp diavolo, lasagna, and panzanella.
I hoped to start things off with a glass of sparkling wine. But that’s not what arrived. I chalked it up to a miscommunication and didn’t complain.
The purser had informed us that meal service would begin as soon as possible after takeoff. This makes sense for a late flight, as many passengers will want to snooze for a few hours on the way to San Francisco. Plates arriving at about 45 minutes after takeoff is plenty fast.
I was impressed before the first bite. The food simply looks delicious. I’ve had decent business class food that doesn’t look great. But it’s rare to have a wonderfully plated dish that doesn’t also taste good.
The last time I’d had panzanella was flying Alitalia, and I wasn’t impressed. This was different. Kale isn’t my thing, but this dish was tasty. The shrimp diavolo was even better.
I’d waffled between the chicken cacciatore and lasagna, opting for the latter at the last second. I’ve had some bad airplane pasta, but the JetBlue lasagna was downright excellent.
My singular complaint? No butter was provided for the roll. The choices were either olive oil or chili oil. First world problems.
Dessert was as wonderful as the rest of dinner.
Impressed by JetBlue’s signature Mint Condition cocktail, I asked for another with dinner. Unfortunately, they had run short of what they needed to make it. Apparently this was the first time this had ever happened to this flight attendant, and he apologized profusely. I settled for the sparkling wine instead. This time there was no miscommunication.
JetBlue Mint meal service is fantastic. It takes the cake as the best domestic catering I’ve enjoyed.
Wi-Fi and Entertainment
JetBlue is known for offering free Wi-Fi at every seat. With more carriers headed this way, they won’t be industry-leading in this regard for much longer.
The in-flight entertainment screen is a bit dated compared to other carriers. The picture isn’t a crisp, and the touch screen isn’t as responsive as newer systems. These are several years old at this point.
The Wi-Fi didn’t work from the gate though takeoff. We’d been in the air about 10 minutes when the lead flight attendant said they were resetting it, a process that takes several minutes. I had tried to connect and wondered what the issue was.
The Wi-Fi came back up working. But a couple minutes after I connected, the entire IFE system reset. All the screens went black. Fortunately, after this reboot, everything worked fine. If you want live TV, JetBlue offers DirecTV.
I do want to note that the Mint headsets are over-ear, but they are not noise-canceling.
Rest of the Mint Experience
About 30 minutes after dinner was served, a flight attendant pitched the JetBlue credit card. He made sure to highlight the fact that they will be flying to Dublin and Edinburgh soon. The expansion into Europe is a fantastic step for the carrier, and I’m curious how much their passenger traffic will grow over the next couple years.
After dinner and a movie, I settled in for a nap. This lasted the rest of the flight, which dragged on for six full hours. Flying westbound in winter is brutal. My sleep was broken, as I found it difficult to remain comfortable, switching from back to side in the lie-flat seat. I was awakened by the captains announcement as we began our descent into SFO.
As a parting gift, the light attendants provided chocolate covered cashews.
Final Thoughts on JetBlue Mint
What more can I say? Mint is an excellent experience — a great way to cross the country. The throne seat is a great hard product, the service is warm and friendly, and the catering is solid. Booking an economy award and snagging a Move to Mint upgrade is arguably the cheapest way you can fly the product.
So where does it rank? I’d put the JetBlue Mint throne seat ahead of both American and United’s standard business class offerings. If you can snag a United Polaris seat across the country, that may be the better choice. I love the Polaris seat, as long as I get a window. The United catering…not so much. If given the choice between the Mint throne and American A321 Flagship First, I’m really not sure which I’d choose. It’d likely come down to whether I get to experience a Flagship Lounge. I’ve not flown any Delta products to compare it to.
Some good news is that you can now book JetBlue Mint with Qatar Avios, both transcontinental and across the Atlantic. The rates aren’t incredible, but given how often there are Avios transfer bonuses, keep this option in mind.
Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.