JetBlue plans to expand Mint, its premium product available on transcontinental and some Caribbean routes, through the incremental addition of 15 A321ceos (current engine option).
Deliveries will start next year with five aircraft configured for Mint. Most of the remaining deliveries are likely to be configured for Mint as well.
JetBlue also expects to take delivery of 15 incremental A321neos (new engine option) starting in 2020. The agreement with Airbus provides the flexibility to take deliveries in Mint or all-core configurations based on market opportunities.
JetBlue will have the option to configure the NEO aircraft in the long-range version of the A321, the A321LR, starting in 2019. That presents some intriguing possibilities for the carrier; Airbus describes the aircraft as “ideally suited” to transatlantic routes, a capability that has not escaped JetBlue’s notice.
Mint has been a big hit in the transcon market, and the carrier says the routes are among its most profitable.
Launched in 2014, JetBlue Mint offers completely lie-flat seats, with a massage feature and cushions with adjustable firmness. Four of the seats are in “suites” that have sliding doors for privacy.
The service includes dedicated check-in, priority boarding, free Wi-Fi, meal service, an amenity kit and two free checked bags.
JetBlue’s A321 “core cabin” on transcon routes offers 10-inch television screens with free entertainment, free Wi-Fi, seats with the most legroom in coach, power outlets accessible to all customers and a self-serve snack station.
JetBlue recently lost the opportunity to acquire Virgin America to Alaska Airlines, but it has not given up its West Coast aspirations; it currently flies just 12% of the transcon market and sees Mint as its ticket to capturing additional share. It plans increased frequencies—and more Mint service—in high-value West Coast markets, including the Bay Area and Los Angeles, and will consider expansion to new markets.
JetBlue also is strengthening its Long Beach focus city with new all-core service. It will phase in nine additional daily frequencies from Long Beach beginning in the fourth quarter.
Earlier this year, JetBlue announced an expansion of Mint to transcon services to Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, San Diego and Seattle for the first time, while increasing options from New York (JFK), Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
When the new Mint routes have launched, JetBlue will offer up to 70 daily Mint flights to 13 destinations on the East and West Coasts and the Caribbean. More new Mint routes and frequencies will be announced at a later date.