Review: JetBlue Mint, One of the Most Luxurious Ways to Travel Domestically
If you’re flying internationally and are looking for a premium business class product with all the familiar trappings — a lie-flat seat, full meals, complimentary drinks, and a huge in-flight-entertainment screen with plenty of high-quality viewing options — you don’t have to look too far. But if you’re traveling domestically, your options are far more limited. JetBlue’s Mint offers all of the above and is widely regarded as being up there with the best premium-class domestic offerings (Delta One is also pretty great), and we recently had the opportunity to put it to the test on a flight between New York and San Francisco.
JetBlue planes have a Mint cabin on a variety of long-haul domestic flights, in cities including Boston, New York, Fort Lauderdale, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Las Vegas. On my flight, as on most Mint flights, there were five Mint rows in the front of the plane, alternating between a 2-2 and a 1-1 layout. (The four single seats have their own sliding doors, making them essentially private minisuites.)
There’s no dedicated JetBlue lounge at JFK (though there’s an AerLingus lounge in the same terminal, so it would be great if Mint passengers were allowed access), but priority boarding allowed us onto the plane first. I was unfortunately not seated in one of the single-seat “thrones,” but there was a small privacy divider between me and my seatmate.
Waiting at my seat were a blanket, pillow, and amenity kit as well as a welcome note from the two flight attendants, a nice personal touch. As I was getting situated, one of the flight attendants came by to introduce herself and acclimate me to the seat; she also offered a refreshing welcome drink of mint, lime, and club soda, with or without vodka.
The amenity kit contained all the essentials: moisturizers, socks, an eye mask, earplugs, toothbrush and toothpaste, and a pen.
For someone who’s used to being crammed into an economy seat, the Mint offering was incredibly spacious, 22 inches wide and converting into a 6-foot-8-inch lie-flat bed. Power outlets, a nook holding a bottle of water, and a reading light were to my left, a remote for the TV and seat controls were in the left-side armrest, a large table swung down from between the seats (which were also separated by a small cocktail table), and a mesh pouch beneath the screen provided enough space for the essentials.
The in-flight entertainment monitor was also absolutely massive, 15 inches across and operated by touch as well as a remote. I love that JetBlue offers live TV through DirecTV, and the selection of about 60 movies was also well-curated.
But onto the food. The menu here is created by the well-regarded New York restaurant Saxon + Parole, and it’s clear that a lot of thought went into it.
A welcome snack of onion dip and taro chips were served after takeoff — nothing special, but a nice way to start the meal.
Next, we had our choice of three of five entrees, served as small plates: a butter lettuce salad with orange segments, creme fraiche dressing, and pistachios; roasted butternut squash salad with arugula, pomegranate, pumpkin seeds, and cotija; shrimp and grits with tomato ragout, mascarpone, cheddar, and pickled peppers; roast chicken breast with parsnip puree, Brussels sprouts, pickled blackberries, and chicken jus; and five spice-braised short rib with Parmesan polenta.
I opted for the butternut squash salad, the shrimp and grits, and the chicken, and — no exaggeration — it was the best meal I’ve ever eaten on an airplane. Just the fact that I was served three individual dishes was very appreciated, but I would have been very satisfied if I’d received any of these as standalones (either on a plane or at a nice restaurant). The roll was warm and soft, served with a bright, high-quality olive oil. The salad was fresh and bright, with a little crunch from the pumpkin seeds and pomegranate and plenty of chunks of nicely roasted squash. The chicken was tender and not dried out at all, the parsnip puree was creamy and flavorful, the blackberries gave it a bright pop, and the rich jus tied it all together. The shrimp were large and perfectly cooked, the grits were nice and creamy, and the tomato ragout and pickled peppers helped kick the flavor up a few notches.
For dessert, we were served a fruit plate with lots of fresh blackberries, orange slices, strawberries, and fresh mint, as well as scoops of caramel and vanilla ice cream from Brooklyn’s acclaimed Blue Marble. It was a stellar cap to an essentially perfect in-flight meal.
It’s notoriously difficult to nail down in-flight dining because the dryness of the cabin dulls our palates, but each dish was perfectly seasoned and full of big, bold, and vibrant flavors in some unexpected places. (Seriously, who would think to pair chicken breast with pickled blackberries?) The wine selection, chosen by wine writer Jon Bonné, was also on point, with a dry sparkling Raventos rose from Spain, a bright chardonnay from Leo Steen in Santa Cruz, a floral gruner veltliner from Santa Barbara County’s Tatomer Meerseboden, a bold young zinfandel from California’s Turley, and berry-forward, easy-drinking Sonoma Coast pinot noir from Failla on offer.
Snacks, fruit, cappuccino and espresso from Brooklyn Roasting Co., coffee and tea from Dunkin’ Donuts, and drinks including Angry Orchard cider, Brooklyn Lager, Lagunitas Pale Ale, Sam Adams IPA, Bacardi rum, Bombay Sapphire gin, Bulleit bourbon, and Grey Goose vodka were also available on demand. Flight attendants were always nearby, were always very friendly, and always remembered my drink order.
After the meal (and a jaunt down the aisle to help with digestion), I decided to settle in for a nap and lowered the seat down to lie-flat mode. There’s something insanely novel and luxurious about being able to lie completely flat, with a comfortable pillow under your head and a warm blanket covering you, 35,000 feet in the air, and it’s something that everyone should experience at least once. (A word of warning, though: It’ll completely spoil you for ever sitting in economy again.) Cocooned into my little space, I dozed off and got a couple hours of blissfully uninterrupted sleep before repositioning the seat into my best approximation of a La-Z-Boy recliner, ordering a bourbon, and watching a movie in the deep blue mood lighting. A cookie from Christina Tosi's Milk Bar was served as we begun our descent, another nice touch.
When we landed shortly after the movie finished, and I got up from my seat and emerged blinking into the bright and hectic terminal, my thoughts weren’t of the days of sightseeing ahead of me, but on the insanely luxurious and comfortable flight I’d just had. From the friendliness of the flight attendants to the size and softness of the seat to the absolutely delicious meal, flying JetBlue Mint was one of the finest flight experiences I’ve ever had, and I’m certifiably spoiled for all other economy flights I’ll ever take.
An upgrade from economy to Mint was provided at no cost to the author.