JetBlue is planning a significant expansion of its Mint premium cabin product, boosting the number of daily flights offering this service to 80, on up to 20 routes in the United States and Caribbean.
The airline said it will increase the number of Mint seats for sale because of the strong response from customers. Starting in January, Mint will be added to markets like Las Vegas and Seattle, and it will be increasing frequencies out of Los Angeles; it recently moved to LAX’s Terminal 5, which JetBlue claims offers a “vastly upgraded customer service experience” for both Mint and coach fliers.
“In every city where we’ve introduced Mint, we’ve boosted overall performance on the routes,” said JetBlue’s executive vice president of commercial and planning Marty St. George. He noted that until recently, other airlines’ “so-called first class” on domestic routes was an inferior experience, compared with international business or first cabins.
Introduced in a handful of transcontinental markets several years ago, Mint features lie-flat seats, gourmet food and wines, and other perks. And it was an outlier for the maverick airline, which had prided itself on being a single-class airline. The new class was made possible by the carrier’s acquisition of Airbus A321 jets, which are larger than the A320s that form the core of its fleet. JetBlue is also looking at a long-range version of the A321, which has fueled speculation that the next phase of its expansion could be across the North Atlantic to Europe.
But JetBlue isn’t alone in its efforts to give domestic business fliers an upgrade. American, Delta and United all have introduced sleeper seats and upgraded amenities in premium cabins on key transcontinental routes like New York-LA, where there’s enough demand from business travelers to justify the added frills.
In other news, JetBlue announced a 16.6% rise in second-quarter profit, helped in part by higher average fares, making it the latest of a string of carriers posting strong results this year. Analysts said the JetBlue’s willingness to charge higher fares than even some of the legacy lines has helped its financial performance.
And JetBlue said it has no intention of slowing down, and plans to increase seat capacity in the third quarter between 6.5% and 7.5% over a year ago.