Will JetBlue Bring Mint To Europe?

We write a lot here at OMAAT about business class innovations.

In particular, the introduction of sliding doors on products like Qatar Airways QSuites and Delta One Suites will likely eventually become the industry standard for leading carriers in business class.

But remember, the very first airline to introduce sliding, closing doors in business class was a US low cost carrier four years ago, exclusively operating narrow body aircraft.

That airline is JetBlue, and that product is called Mint.

Mint

Ben has reviewed Mint several times and considers it to be the best domestic business class in the US.

Currently Mint operates on various domestic US routes, as well as some routes between the US and the Caribbean.

JetBlue has 85 Airbus A321 aircraft on order, though not all of them feature Mint cabins.

Recently we have seen the introduction of A321 variants operating flights between the US and Europe. I’ve written in detail about Primera Air’s bizarre launch into the highly competitive transatlantic market. We have also seen established players like Aer Lingus able to launch new services between the two continents thanks to these new aircraft.

They’re both fuel efficient, and small enough that they’re easier to fill for each flight as opposed to a Boeing 777 or 747.

Boston to London

While JetBlue has long thrown around the idea of launching flights to Europe, they’ve now for the first time named a specific route. As noted by Australian Business Traveller, JetBlue has revealed that Boston to London would be the most logical route to begin with, given they have a big presence in Boston and feel that fares on this route are high priced and ripe for new, lower cost entrants.

Here is an example of return prices in business class in a few months time.

For those short-ish overnight flights from the east coast USA to western Europe (especially the UK), most business class travellers will just want a flat bed and some privacy to manage some sleep, without necessarily needing or even wanting all the bells and whistles a full service premium product from a legacy carrier may include.

While business class fares are indeed high on this route, I would argue that economy fares have never been cheaper. I flew Norwegian from London to Boston last year for around $250 (one way) and would recommend them on this leg.

I’ve also recently written about Primera Air’s insanely low one way fares from the US to London as they desperately try to fill their planes on their newly operated routes.

A JetBlue executive has said:

“I think London is now the biggest market we don’t serve out of Boston. We look at the obscene fares that carriers are charging in that market and we think we can bring price discipline.”

JetBlue hasn’t made any firm plans on transatlantic flights, but has said that they think it is a good opportunity and when the time is right they ‘may very well launch it.’

They would need to convert some of their A321 orders into the LR (Long Range) models in order to be able to operate flights of this distance.

You can redeem TrueBlue points for flights on JetBlue’s Mint business class

Bottom line

I’m dying to try Mint, because I recognise it’s a genius product for a low cost carrier and priced extremely reasonably for what it is.

More competition in competitive markets is always a good thing and while I don’t doubt Mint will be incredibly popular if taken transatlantic (I could easily see $699 one way Mint launch fares), and JetBlue has excellent brand recognition amongst US travellers especially, I do question how JetBlue will be able to compete on price for economy tickets, when the likes of Norwegian and Primera Air are already charging such low prices.

Would you like to see JetBlue fly to Europe?

Comments

  1. That Norwegian fair didn’t seem so great that you payed. I flew British airways from jfk to lhr last year for only $305 roundtrip.

  2. Why is this a question? JetBlue has said they will (referring to the article title, not the prompt at the end.)

  3. I’d imagine that their transatlantatic A321LR would be rather premium heavy and feature more than 16J seats.
    Indeed i doubt there’s alot of money to be made from economy fares that continue to fall day by day.
    Oh and Primera yesterday announced that they are also launching a base in Madrid and operating flights to Boston, Newark and Toronto next summer. For some reason i laughed when i read the announcement and had to check to the range of the B737 Max9 again.

  4. FYI, they are quite likely to do it and I can also tell you for a fact that the Mint seat will be completely revamped (I would know, I was invited to a workshop a few months ago to test a prototype of the new cabin).

  5. Assuming the economy remains strong, it’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when. I think it would be relatively aggressive as well, launching flights from JFK and BOS to London and Dublin to start. Dublin is easy, but the London route will be tricky. Which airport will they serve? It has been reported that B6 bid for slots at Heathrow last winter but were denied. Gatwick? Stansted? Perhaps even Luton?

    Another option which you missed and was discussed by B6 execs with TPG, was that they are also eyeing a mint configured a220. I wouldn’t put it past them to launch BOS – LCY and JFK – LCY with that aircraft. There’s been a lot of smoke about them on that route, and it fits the type of passenger they are after well, well off travelers not necessarily married to an alliance flying paid premium tickets. They have talked at length about this in the press recently, and you can see how well it has worked on premium transcon flights, where they cratered prices and are now actually commanding the premiums if you look at prices against competing legacies.

    I don’t think its fair to call B6 a LCC anymore. They seem to be on a quest to disrupt the legacies more and more, and have found a perfect niche demographic to do it. It remains to be seen if it will work transatlantic, but I don’t think the premium markets are that different to US premium transcon, and I think Dublin and London are the two perfect markets to start in, especially if they can provide frequency. B6 isn’t afraid of a fight. The only thing that would have a big effect on this all is the economy. B6 can only make this work if the economy is strong and that niche demographic is there to fly paid tickets.

  6. Looks like my comment didn’t go through so here goes again… They are definitely working on going to Europe, and I know for a fact that they are also working on a completely revamped Mint cabin and seat – I would know because they invited me to a workshop a few months back to test prototypes.

  7. How about another 3 rows of mint in exchange behind the exit door for 6 or 7 rows rows of economy (10 seats for 35-42) and the even more room could be one continuous section going back to (and including) the 3rd door exit row?

  8. They don’t need to compete with LCC on economy in the sense they can connect passengers beyond BOS and JFK in the States, Norwegian cannot. On the flip-side Jetblue can’t connect passengers after London. Maybe a partnership with someone in Europe?

  9. Mint translatantic to London would be very welcome. In the past they’ve discussed doing a more premium heavy config, and if you look at the competition on this route it’s all garbage. Hell a Mint Suite is better than anyone offers in *first* right now (I don’t find AA’s 777-300ER product to be good at all, and BA is offering a business class product at best.)

    Mint pretty much owns the transcon game among free agents. Alaska gave up, Delta cut back soft product to try and match the price (and has been scrambling to expand to Seattle in response) , and United retreated back to EWR. If JetBlue could go big I think they’d have a hit.

  10. James if you’re dying to try them before then, do the BOS => SFO segment. Fares are as low as $400 one-way, though often on the last flight of the night (arriving at SFO at 1:30 a.m.)

  11. I sure hope so! Also a lot of people here don’t seem to be aware it the doesn’t matter where the doors are with the new A320/A321’s as they have Airbus’ new “cabin-flex” format.

    An A220/CS100 with Mint to LCY would definitely be different! Although there are other people supposedly trying to do this such as the start-up Odyssey, although we haven’t seen anything solid from them yet…

  12. It’s hard for me to think of Jet Blue as a Low Cost Carrier with two class service, IFE at every seat, extra legroom in economy and snacks and meals. It seems like it’s in a class by itself. In any event, Mint is great and it would be wonderful to see it expand to Europe.

  13. Totally looking forward to it.

    I had the same concern about JetBlue competing in economy. I wonder if they’ll equip the 321LR with more Mint seats, say. 22 vs. 16 and really try to differentiate themselves as a premium carrier vs. Norwegian? Plus, I would much rather fly Mint than CW on BA. Even if intro Mint fares were $999 each way, I think they’d have a captive audience.

    Also, they could provide decent 1stop access to Western Europe for smaller JetBlue cities via BOS or JFK. Not sure that is viable but might be on their mind as well.

  14. are u searching for fares properly? I never paid more than $3k round trip for a TATL ticket from Europe to the east coast. And I’m flying to JFK in January in LH first for $5k.

    U can routinely score fares for $2600 return in business

  15. Is this amateur hour? B6 is not an LCC. It’s costs are high. Been that way since the start. Read up on airline business mag. Etc. good effort.

  16. I fly JetBlue any time I can, and since I live by JFK, its a great option for domestic travel. Never have to ask whether I will have IFE, theres always enough legroom (even in coach), you always get good snacks, WiFi always free, plus the flight crew are great and seem genuinely happy to work for JetBlue. And Mint is just fantastic, and I liked it way more than the Delta One and AA biz class I also flew this year. Mint to Europe would be soooo good

  17. @James
    The Director of Route Planning at jetBlue is Italian so maybe this will help to get B6 into the transatlantic race.

  18. Nice article, James. Right now transatlantic fares are ridiculously low, I see so many under $350 r/t … some even to West Coast USA … JetBlue would be a great entrant to the transatlantic market with the A321

  19. Dublin would be very ideal, considering they partner with Aer Lingus for connections to Europe and due to the fact that Dublin just lost their (seasonal) AA 757 service to JFK, it would make perfect sense

  20. Not sure if it’s been said before but it wouldn’t be surprising to see jetBlue and Easyjet team up for some kind of joint venture on this; both have networks that would complement the other nicely in Europe and the US.

  21. I think it’s safe to assume that they would fly to Gatwick. Not unless their friends at Tap gave them some nice slots at LHR…..
    And yes, it would be awesome if they joined ‘Worldwide by EasyJet’ to offer pax further connections to Europe from Gatwick.

  22. JetBlue doesn’t have lounges. If you are flying a short route like BOS to DUB or LHR then the high rollers like to eat on the ground beforehand, then sleep.

  23. @Tom
    That’s an easy fix… jetBlue doesn’t need to build their own lounges, they can just contract an existing lounge.

  24. @peterframpton, his pricing is for US-To Europe (or London which is a whole different animal). You are looking at EU-US pricing which is easily 40 to 60% higher.

  25. British Airways will find a way to stop them whatever it takes
    They have way to many sub par business class seats to dispose of daily

  26. Their biggest issue will be gaining accesss to LHR not LGW and I am very surprised it wa not mentioned at all. The cost of those slots at LHR would be an issue in charging so much less then the other guys and going into LGW would not bring the same premium market that LHR can substain.

  27. I’d hoped from the headline that B6 would launch intra-Europe flights. Is there any word of any carrier even potentially launching a US-style domestic business class seat on intra-Europe flights? Seems like a big untapped market.

  28. @ Jeff – they will aim for LGW if they service London. There is no way they will pay for a LHR slot. Given the obscure airlines who service LGW I think theyll be able to get slots there.

  29. JB and JB Mint, such An amazing airline and such amazing service in every respect.
    Truly my favourite airline worldwide additional to Qatar Airways .

    Last year, was on a flight from Florida to JFK, Flew in coach, not mint, had to divert to Philadelphia, for couple of hours because of sever weather . unbelievable care and information provided by the pilot and the crew, hot drinks and cookies provided at the gate while waited on the ground. Following morning woke up to an email of apology ( even though it was bad weather that caused the short interotubtion to the flight ) with $100 voucher offered .

    Where on earth would you get such a treatment ??

    I truly hope JB start to fly to the UK, maybe then BA would start to learn some Monors from what suppose to be a budget airline.

  30. Dwondermeant,

    Business passengers want Heathrow, and they want regular flights. LHR-JFK has something like ten BA flights a day – it’s like a shuttle.

    In fact BA often has a spare 777 at places like JFK just so that they can keep their schedules. I don’t see JetBlue hitting that market, but will snag some leisure flyers who don’t mind LGW and still want a lie-fat seat, at least Eastbound.

    What would be great is decent one-way fares, which are currently often more than a round-trip fare, making no sense

  31. The legacy’s have streamlined these flights pretty well. Eat on the ground, sleep on the plane, eat & shower on the ground, and then hop on Heathrow Express to the office. It’s certainly not a luxurious or even pleasant experience, but it is efficient. It would be hard to replicate without A TON of up front cash.

  32. Hell yeah I’d fly B6 to London. Their seats are EXTREMELY better than the “business class” seats on BA, and service will be much better as well. Not to mention, they’d drive the prices way down. No way in hell I’m paying 5k for BA. I’m also excited that they are starting from BOS as opposed to JFK. Boston doesn’t seem to get much love anymore .

  33. Can someone tell me why LGW is supposedly so unpopular with business travellers? With Thameslink to London Bridge and beyond (running every 15 mins), you are in the City or in Canary Wharf in 35 mins. That’s faster than from LHR.

  34. Burying the lede here. Read CC’s posts. B6 is revamping Mint.

    That will mean more seats and I would bet you a big chunk of change one of the ways they get there is by doing away with the suites. THAT’S the story.

  35. Ideally if they do away with the suite seats, they will transition to offset style seats where every seat has aisle access and, in a sense, every seat will be a suite, albeit a smaller one.

  36. Chris K,

    Thameslink can be an hour to the City because it shares the tracks with local trains. The Gatwick Express to Victoria can be 30 minutes but that’s a ways from the City.

    Also have you ever arrived at LGW just behind a bunch of flights returning stag and hen do crowds from Ibiza and Magaluf? No fun at all.

    Aaron,

    Not everyone is an AvGeek whose only focus is how this seat has this and that seat has that. Most premium flyers aren’t using points for an enhanced vacation experience but are actually paying and trying to do business. High value pax pay that 5K to BA for a reason and the load factors in BA CW to and from London are impressive.

  37. Tom, thanks

    I lived in Canary Wharf for 2 years, never encountered this problem. When flying out, I always chose LGW over LHR (6 mins or so Jubilee Line to London Bridge and then 28 mins to LGW). I picked up friends a couple of times from LHR (arriving from outside EU). They frequently reported having to queue up 2 hrs at immigration. While in LGW i do not remember that to be an issue. Stag and hen? I just walk faster and leave them behind.

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