JetBlue, the discount carrier famous for its egalitarian approach to flying, is jumping deeper into the premium market. The airline added a new route for its upscale "Mint" service on Sunday: New York to San Francisco. Mint, which launched on June 15 between New York and Los Angeles, features fully-flat reclining seats, private suites, 15-inch flat-screen TVs, and other luxuries.
Customers are also treated to a tapas-style menu from New York City restaurant Saxon+Parole, wines selected by the airline's own expert, customized amenity kits from Birchbox, and organic desserts from Blue Marble Ice Cream and Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery. Brand new Airbus A321 aircraft are being configured for the Mint service, and even coach passengers will benefit with free Wi-Fi and in-seat power outlets.
The seats start at $599 each way, which JetBlue says are "much lower than than any competitors' premium offering." That's true: Business class fares between New York and Los Angeles or San Francisco can run into the thousands of dollars, while a round-trip ticket on JetBlue would be about $1,200. And, as Brian Kelly of ThePointsGuy.com notes, a last-minute economy ticket on JetBlue is only $50 less than a Mint seat.
The service is offering two flights a day between New York and San Francisco, but JetBlue expects to add another flight during the busy holiday season. It also plans to increase the New York to Los Angeles service to seven daily flights by December.
The move comes at a time when JetBlue is reporting record earnings: $79 million for the third quarter. Mint is key to the airline's continued success, executives said.
"We truly believe we have a terrific product," said JetBlue President Robin Hayes, who is slated to become the company's CEO in February.