Prediction: How Will JetBlue Price Mint On Transatlantic Flights?

Filed Under: JetBlue

JetBlue is expected to launch transatlantic flights in the coming months, with the first routes expected to be from Boston and New York to London. We still don’t know which London-area airport the airline will fly to, though personally I think Gatwick will be the most likely, based on the slots that have been awarded so far.

JetBlue will operate transatlantic flights with brand new A321LRs, featuring both new Mint Suites and Mint Studios (Mint is the name of JetBlue’s business class product).

Back in 2014 JetBlue initially introduced its Mint business class product on transcon flights, putting a lot of pressure on other airlines. In this post I wanted to speculate a bit on how I think JetBlue will change premium pricing on transatlantic flights.

The current state of transatlantic business class fares

Let’s take a look at the current state of transatlantic business class fares, and we’ll use the Boston to London market as an example. This is a market that’s dominated by two transatlantic joint ventures, as American and British Airways have a joint venture, and Delta and Virgin Atlantic have a joint venture (United also plans on launching this route now, clearly to retaliate against JetBlue). Pre-pandemic, these airlines had more than a handful of daily flights between the two cities.

While these joint ventures fundamentally compete with one another, the reality is that these airlines don’t actually want to rock the boat too much. They want to keep the same outdated ticketing rules in place, and want to keep prices high. In business class they largely focus on product and schedule over trying to undercut the other joint venture on price, because that’s a lose-lose proposition for the airlines.

Looking at nonstop, roundtrip business class fares between Boston and London, with a seven night minimum stay, here’s what I’m currently seeing:

  • The lowest fares over most periods seem to be ~$3,800
  • Close to departure the lowest fares are ~$6,800
  • There’s a brief period in summer where fares dip as low as ~$2,500

Transatlantic fares sure could use some innovation, eh?

Overall, though, fares are generally well over $3,000 roundtrip, and in most cases closer to $4,000. And that assumes you book in advance, because if you don’t, you can expect to pay about double as much.

How will JetBlue change transatlantic business class pricing?

I believe that JetBlue will take a completely different approach towards transatlantic pricing than existing players. The big question is whether other airlines will match. This is purely speculation on my part, but let me share what I’m expecting. I’m basing this largely on what JetBlue did in 2014 when it entered the New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco markets with its Mint product.

One-ways for half the cost of roundtrips

Historically the legacy transatlantic airlines don’t at all have attractive one-way pricing. Often a one-way ticket is more expensive than a roundtrip. This is so that airlines can better try to segment their customer base by having seven day minimum stays, requiring customers to stay over the weekend to get the lowest fare, etc.

Personally I think it’s likely that JetBlue will simplify transatlantic pricing and price tickets one-way. In other words, a roundtrip ticket will cost the same as two one-ways. This is what JetBlue has done in transcon markets, where pre-2014 the legacy airlines didn’t price that way.


JetBlue’s new Mint Suite

Looking at JetBlue’s current transcontinental Mint Suite pricing

Current JetBlue Mint pricing is all over the place, though I think it’s worth talking big-picture about JetBlue’s Mint pricing between coasts. A few things to note upfront:

  • It’s worth looking at business markets where JetBlue faces a lot of competition, since that’s the closest comparison to JetBlue’s transatlantic markets, where the airline will face a lot of competition; in other words, Boston and New York to London are most comparable to New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco
  • Generally JetBlue’s transatlantic flights will be around 30% further than JetBlue’s transcontinental routes; while pricing rarely directly reflects cost, this is still something to be aware of in terms of fuel burn, aircraft utilization, crewing costs, etc.
  • For the purposes of this, let’s not even discuss airport taxes and fees, which will be significantly higher for these flights, especially when departing the UK due to the Air Passenger Duty (APD); business class passengers can expect to pay about ~$300 one-way when departing the UK

With that in mind, pre-pandemic JetBlue’s pricing in the New York to Los Angeles market generally started at around $650, and creeped all the way up to $1,500+. That $650 pricing was typically available throughout the year, but only on select flights and at select times. Sometimes it was available way in advance, while other times it was available close to departure.

It wasn’t consistently $650, though. Sometimes we saw pricing start at $550, sometimes at $600, and sometimes at $700. Looking at pricing months down the road, it looks like JetBlue pricing is starting at $729 in these markets.

JetBlue’s Mint pricing months in advance

My best guess of JetBlue’s transatlantic Mint pricing

This is purely speculation on my part, but my guess is that JetBlue’s transatlantic pricing will be somewhere along these lines:

  • I think Mint flights will start at ~$1,000 one-way, not including any taxes and fees; I expect these fares will be available throughout the year, though only on select frequencies based on demand
  • When the route first goes on sale I wouldn’t be surprised to see some ~$800 one-way fares, given the complete lack of demand for transatlantic flights at the moment, and just to generate some buzz
  • While some fares may be as low as the the above, most travelers will pay much more than that; I think pricing will cap out at ~$2,000-2,500, for bookings on nearly full flight, peak frequencies, etc.

In other words, I think JetBlue’s Mint fares will start at around ~$2,300 roundtrip (including taxes & fees), while they’ll be ~$4,000-5,000 roundtrip at the highest. In all cases this will significantly undercut the competition.

JetBlue’s new Mint Suite

What will Mint Studio pricing be like?

JetBlue is doing something unique with its new Mint product — while the standard business class seat will be known as Mint Suite, the first row of the plane will have two seats known as Mint Studio, offering more space, and even a buddy seat.

JetBlue’s new Mint Studio

With JetBlue’s old Mint product, a quarter of the seats had direct aisle access and doors, though JetBlue didn’t charge extra for them. Rather they were available on a first come, first served basis. This seemed backwards to some, given that those booking the cheapest fares in advance got the best seats.

JetBlue has stated that Mint Studio will cost extra, so what kind of fares should we expect? Again, purely speculation on my part, but I would guess:

  • Mint Studio will be a pretty consistent upcharge from whatever the best available Mint fare is at the time; in other words, the upgrade cost to Mint Studio would be the same whether you book a $999 fare or a $1,999 fare, rather than being a percentage of the fare
  • My best guess would be that JetBlue will charge somewhere around $300 one-way for this upgrade; I could see it being as low as $250 or as high as $400, but I can’t imagine it being much outside of that range, especially if there are no additional services for these passengers


JetBlue’s new Mint Studio

Bottom line

JetBlue is expected to launch transatlantic flights this year. The airline will hopefully not only offer a great inflight product, but will bring some much needed innovation to the outdated pricing policies of the legacy airlines in this market.

While this is purely speculation on my part, I expect JetBlue will price tickets as one-ways. I also think pricing will start somewhere around ~$1,000 one-way, though in many cases pricing will be at least twice as high.

The other question is how much of a premium JetBlue will charge for the Mint Studio, which is the name of the seats in the first row. I’m expecting the airline to charge an extra ~$300 one-way, though I also could be totally off.

What are you expecting from JetBlue’s transatlantic Mint pricing? Feel free to share your guesses below, before tickets go on sale!

Comments
  1. Hopefully the major airlines will price aggressively in an effort to drive B6 out of the market. United launching BOS-LHR is a good start. B6 is much less able today to hold on in the face of aggressive price competition than it would have been a few years ago. And if they are not operating to LHR, then they will be significantly disadvantaged relative to the major airlines.

    The market does not need price disruption. It needs price stability.

  2. When it was introduced, “$599” was the pretty standard one-way fare at off-peak frequencies for JFK-LAX/SFO. And similarly when Boston was introduced, though we sometimes saw it drop as low as $399 (and lower yet, recently, when they were price matching Alaska…). Pre-COVID, I was expecting this transatlantic to have fares starting at $999 each way, though like you, I could see some $799 OW intro fares to drive demand and pull people away from the bigger carriers.

    Personally, as a DL Loyalist, I’m excited by what this may do to suppress fares on what has historically been incredibly overpriced routes. Some east coast flights to London are barely longer than a transcon flight, but business class fares are typically 3-4x. I don’t think that will be the case anymore, across the board.

    I think we shouldn’t forget about coach fares, either. Last year, pre-COVID, I was getting some of the cheapest transatlantic fares (main cabin for $278 roundtrip Boston to London, for example) I had ever seen, and I worried with the insolvency of many European low cost carriers and the reduced frequencies in this market, we may not see these come back soon, if ever. But B6 gives me renewed faith here, as well, as I could see their introductory flights offering $139-159 OW fares in coach.

    I do think your price estimate is fair for the “Studio” upgrade. Personally, I think it will be a product that is rarely bought and will be given away at the gate to fill all the paid business class seats, but I could see them offering upgrades at check-in for $99 when they know the seat isn’t going to otherwise sell….at least to generate some interest while the product is still in its infancy.

  3. Mint now commands a decent premium in markets where they are not going head-to-head with other lie flats (West Coast to Florida for instance). I would say in general B6 has fallen in line with others on pricing (other than the ability to book o/w) — or rather all parties met somewhere in the middle when they are directly competing on product. Sure they may have some introductory pricing, but I don’t necessarily think they will long term low ball the competition. COVID demand and travel restrictions make all this even more wonky. The reality is if you were timing your purchasing/had some flexibility, you could find sub 2k flights NYC-LON on occasion even before B6 entered the chat. With LON departure taxes that is really ~1.5k fares. In other words, there is already a ton of competition on these routes. In before COVID times, there was also a ton of demand. Prices met in the middle.

  4. You think you’ll get some sleep in row 1 on a red eye with the FA galley chatter? On such a small fuselage ?

    “Hey Roge ! Did you bid the new schedule yet ?”
    “There’s heaps of food leftover back in the main cabin !!!!!”
    “Ahahahahah !!!!!! When do you think we’ll arrive ? How do you plan on getting into town ?”
    “Well I usually take the underground but Albert is picking me up today !!!!!!!”
    “Oh that’s quite lovely !!!!!!!!!”
    “What’d you say !!!????????”
    “Huh!!!!!!!!???”

  5. @D3kingg – that’s funny and so true!

    However, you forgot “Did I tell you I had the most horrific w-end, I had to do 2 turns in a row….”!!

  6. I see B6 at least in the short term going attacking the higher end leisure market to London. I just don’t see International business travel for awhile.

  7. Let’s not forget that a big chunk of those higher fares to LHR include massively high taxes including some that specifically target business class passengers.

    And B6 will be using an aircraft that will have have higher unit costs than a widebody and also has cargo capability.

    and, because there is little business class demand right now, the legacy airlines on both sides of the Atlantic will be more than capable of selectively publishing B6 comparable fares and expose much less inventory in the process.

    and, of course, B6 actually has to get viable slots into LHR.

  8. I would disagree and say you are wrong @Ben. BA/AA DL/VS business class fares have Apex’s starting at 120 Days, 90Days, 60Days, 28 Days, 14 Days, 7 Days and then anything inside 7 without a route deal, corporate account code or SME fare in place will be full fare business (BA/AA do have differential fares which are available within 7 Days but are priced based on Y+ and not always available). For the leisure market B6 will have there 120 Day Apex fares at £1100GBP return or £550 OW and building steadily from there. I would assume to gain market share the 14 Day-7 Day Apex fares will be £2100-2300GBP to match AA/BA VS/DL corporate fares and SME fares.

  9. Lucky I hope you’re right. All the domestic carriers collude together to give horrible prices for mediocre products for a 6-7 hour flight.

    They often jack up the economy rates way over $1,000 for basic economy. It would be nice to see them have to compete for once against a superior product


  10. Tim Dunn says:
    February 19, 2021 at 1:41 pm

    Let’s not forget that a big chunk of those higher fares to LHR include massively high taxes including some that specifically target business class passengers.”

    There are NO massive taxes on fares TO LHR.

    What there are are massive airline carrier surcharges which are not proper government taxes.

    Calling carrier surcharges ‘taxes’ lets the airlines off the hook for a fare element that is 100% down to them.

    Is it too much to ask for some accuracy?

  11. There are massive premium cabin government imposed taxes FROM LHR and they will be paid by B6 passengers just as they are by every other airline.

    I suppose you could fly TO London (not just LHR) surface to continental Europe and keep going to avoid the premium cabin APD.

  12. I think another good thing to compare will be capacity. B6 will have a lot less capacity compared to completion to LON than on their LAX/SFO routes. So could be easy for other airlines to just let B6 charge cheap and have those seats disappear and then continue charging their rate

  13. “I suppose you could fly TO London (not just LHR) surface to continental Europe and keep going to avoid the premium cabin APD.”

    Exactly what I plan to do. Dublin makes a great place to stop for a bit on the way home.

  14. Stansted is pretty difficult and inconvenient to get to from London even from North London which is closest – so yeah that sucks. Tbh I suspect they won’t get slots at LHR in the near term but given the almost abandonment of BA and Virgin of Gatwick and Norwegian winding down operations there, if they give the airport some security and guarantees of operating there for minimum period, they’ll be able to have a complete operation there with a deal with the airport.

    I do think though the advantage of the A321LR is being able to serve smaller regional markets – the focus on London I’m not sure will pay off given how competitive is here, you’re not just competing with direct flights from London, but also for casual leisure flyers many are willing to do a stop and transit even in Amsterdam or Frankfurt. You have to also remember many business flyers are already committed by their employers to the existing frequent flyer schemes as they don’t have choice with who they fly and I don’t think many will be willing to let go of that earning capability especially with the way many leverage credit cards etc. if JetBlue make a success of this it’ll be serving more regional airports like Manchester and Glasgow and Edinburgh where there’s enough demand to fill plane this size with this configuration but not much bigger – Aer Lingus does well with this with feeding into their hub in Dublin from almost most major cities via Aer Lingus Regional but obviously direct flight would be more attractive and I think workable in the bigger cities. Airlines often miss a trick in the UK with the focus on London, Emirates really opened up the regions with flying east and made a massive success of it after BA abandoned them, so I think JetBlue could revolutionise similarly with flying west.

  15. Ben,

    You’re missing the most important aspect of these fares: change restrictions!

    Before COVID, the alliances had moved to a super-unfriendly use-it-or-lose it model for the “cheapest” business class fares, and a USD 800 penalty for changes for the next “cheapest” tier.

    JetBlue generally does not screw over customers the same way as BA/AA & co. do, so its presence will make a difference even if the price of the “cheapest” fares doesn’t drop

  16. Add on toD3kingg:

    “When you get to the hotel make sure they don’t assign you the 4th floor. It has ghosts. I took a shower and amongst the steam I saw the wording “I see you” on the glass shower door.”

    I swear I heard this galley chatter trying to sleep in row 1.

  17. @vlcnc
    In the UK, London v. the rest is tricky.

    I suspect London generates more premium traffic (F and J) than the rest of the country. Aer Lingus looks smart, but its flirtation with LCC status meant it had no business class on flights between Dublin and UK: most business travellers I know aren’t prepared to take an LCC connecting flight in Economy before joining their main flight. (I vaguely remember that may be changing: Aer Lingus was going to reintroduce business class on at least London—Dublin flights.)

    On the other hand KLM has done more than any other airline to capture non-London UK traffic, channelling it to Schipol. Their tiny regional jets all have a separate business class.

    And KLM serves far more UK airports than BA, with good frequencies: NWI, my tiny local airport just a ~25 minute flight from Amsterdam (20 on a windy day!), in normal times had no fewer than 3 Schipol shuttles every day.

    But who knows if the post-Covid market will be anything like the Before Times. I’m looking forward to my first TATL JetBlue flight. 🙂

  18. It would be interesting to see if there could be a Mint Studio+Main Cabin package, say traveling with parent, and providing Mint F&B for main cabin passenger to enjoy in Mint Studio. It’s gonna be interesting.

  19. @The nice Paul: I’d forgotten about KLM, but you’re right about that of course as someone from the regions originally – they were the original airline to capitalise on that. I disagree about certain people are unwilling to do a regional sector in coach seat, you have to remember BA didn’t even have Club Europe on domestic flights until fairly recently – most people in the regions are accustomed to not having that choice so I think a lot are happily using Aer Lingus this way. Of course if JetBlue offered a direct service, that would be another advantage in their favour if they’re flying in a premium cabin. I just don’t see major capitals being where their success lies, these are already well served – they might serve them to have a ‘complete’ network but I think they’d be foolish to ignore the growth opportunity of serving second and third cities especially with the planes they have.

  20. @vlcnc
    “I disagree about certain people are unwilling to do a regional sector in coach seat”

    Disagree if you like: I did qualify it as the J class travellers I know, so there may well be others who don’t care.

    But the issue — for me — is that I’m almost invariably travelling for work. And I deliberately only ever have carry-on.

    If part of my journey is in Economy, there’s no guarantee I’ll get to keep my bag with me.

    What I’m happy to pay for is minimum fuss and maximum predictability (which is why I hate airlines that have a brilliant J class product — but only on 5% of their fleet). My overseas trips are stressful enough without introducing more uncertainty.

  21. @The nice Paul: That’s not true you would have that uncertainty though. If you have an onward connection in J, and you were travelling on a regional sector without that on the plane, you’d still be prioritised over other the majority of passengers travelling economy and almost certainly be allowed to keep your hand-luggage with you. I appreciate you might personally value having a proper business experience on that short flight, but in the context of the experience of most people in the regions I don’t think it is not a priority. As you say the top priority is about being able travel with minimum fuss, a proper premium seat on a short regional flight is low on priority compared to other factors and given the benefits one maintains if you’re on J connection their really isn’t an issue.

  22. I’m not so sure about the pricing as one-ways: it’s one thing to do that domestically, another to do it internationally, especially when the other end has a different currency and a fluctuating exchange rate like GBP.

    While there probably will be one-way fares in Mint, I think we’ll see them at 60-75% of the return fare, which would still be a lot cheaper than the legacy carriers one-way full J fares.

  23. We are leisure travelers who favor business class. Out next trip to London is in June. I hope they have JetBlue Mint by then. We love flying Mint whenever it is available.

  24. JetBlue is still a LCC. It doesn’t matter what price the airline wants it to be. It’s the passenger and demand that will guide this. I maintain that all these is just pandering. Where they really intend however, is US domestic. In the international market flights, JetBlue is a sub par product. This is practically AirAsia X back in the day who thought they will change the world.

  25. The fact the flights will be predominately into Stansted means they have to discount substantially just to attract any interest. I also think the value of fairly-priced one-way tickets is negligible on overseas routes for anyone who is not a miles enthusiast.

    One daily frequency from JFK to LGW is not attractive either, and both STN and LGW offer no real chance for connecting flow beyond easyjet or Ryanair.

    Given the post-Covid travel environment which will likely be business-oriented on long haul routes, I just cannot see B6 making these London slots work.

  26. I’ve always been fascinated by the massive price differentials for premium fares. You mention the cheapest, restricted J fares from the US East Coast start at USD 3800. Going from Europe, return fares can routinely be had for well under 2000. This again does depend on which city you depart from, with some places very popular amongst the “ex-EU” crowd.

  27. @Kerry
    God, I love Stansted. It’s the perfect airport for East Anglia and the tech R&D and manufacturing hub at Cambridge (and the biotech hub at Norwich) — with direct trains from both to a station immediately underneath the terminal.

    The terminal was designed by Norman Foster, the first of the new generation of glassy terminals which have now taken over the world as the dominant airport design form (it isn’t his fault that the dumb owners have subsequently filled the terminal with stupid “retail opportunities”).

    If JetBlue is based at STN they have just won my NY and Boston business. Yay!

    Though I’m still not convinced they won’t be able to win LHR slots if they want them. There’s a lot more airline bankruptcy pain still to come in 2021, which might free up slots (“it’s an ill wind…”, etc).

  28. I think USD 2000-2500 round trip sounds pretty spot on although this will be significantly impacted by the airport and slots they obtain.

    If it’s Heathrow, JetBlue will be a winner. Gatwick too should be okay while stansted will price challenging. The A321lr though gives JetBlue a lot more breathing room to build their market versus filling larger wide bodies.

    All in all, I see JetBlue disrupting the transcon market the way Virgin Atlantic did in the 90s. I am very curious about their economy product as well. With generous legroom and the inch seat width not to mention the even more space upsell, I see them giving the likes of Virgin and BA serious competition even in these cabins.

  29. Firstly, LOL @Doc Mark for confidently saying that your next trip to London WILL be in June, I certainly hope that is able to happen but I certainly wouldn’t be planning on it.

    Secondly I think the ability of legacies to leverage cargo and codeshare networks on these routes during the uncertain COVID recovery period is going to be critical. The fact of the matter is ZNY LON belly demand is going to be stronger than J for some time, having an inability to offer that no matter how great/competitively priced your J product is is going to be a major handicap for the foreseeable future. I could easily see B6 falling into a “boutique” role in the TATL market a La Compagnie, offering a cool value for leisure travellers but failing to capture major market share or meaningfully effect legacy fares.

  30. Having now seen the JetBlue product, I believe they will be one of the few regional carriers who will successfully transition to long haul.

    The biggest trump card for JetBlue is the A321LR which essentially allows them to venture into long haul with minimal risk. Unlike Norwegian, Wow and even Air Asia X who had to invest into costly wide body fleets and fill large capacities, JetBlue is operating these routes with an aircraft that can very easily be deployed across its network should they need to adjust capacity.

    Hence, even if the legacy carriers unleash a price war on JetBlue (which they most certainly will), JetBlue can play the game- just like they did when they launched transcon. In a sense, they have already demonstrated that they can carve out a niche in a crowded market.

    Secondly, JetBlue has captive markets and strong brand loyalty in key markets such as New York and Boston. Unlike Norwegian that had to establish its legitimacy by offering crazy low fares, JetBlue has existing corporate relationships and following among premium leisure travellers on at least one side of the pond.

    JetBlue will have arguably one of the best business class products and most certainly the most roomy economy seats on transatlantic routes. Given their track record, they will offer a very competitive soft product as well that will at the very least match or even exceed those of legacy incumbents. Combined with its lower operating costs, its premium value offering will appeal to high-end leisure travellers.

    Given the sustained downturn in business travel, most carriers are pivoting to target leisure travelers. JetBlue is far better placed to service this demand thanks to its lower capacity aircraft’s. A 757 of a legacy carrier would never be able to compete with them cost or product wise and this gives JetBlue a clear advantage. The COVID fall out may actually benefit them.

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