Impressive: JetBlue Reveals Transatlantic Economy Experience

Filed Under: JetBlue

This summer JetBlue will be launching transatlantic flights. The airline plans to fly from both Boston and New York to London using its brand new A321LR aircraft. We’ve already learned all about JetBlue’s incredible new Mint product, known as Mint Suite and Mint Studio. There’s now some more information about what passengers can expect when flying across the Atlantic.

What will JetBlue transatlantic economy be like?

JetBlue has now revealed what passengers can expect in economy on transatlantic flights, and it sounds incredibly impressive, from an innovative approach to dining, to complimentary wine, beer, and liquor, to complimentary Wi-Fi and live TV.

As Jayne O’Brien, JetBlue’s head of marketing and loyalty, describes JetBlue’s new economy service:

“From generous personal space, to our innovative build-your-own dining concept, every detail has been thoughtfully designed and will be made even better with the attentive service standards that a single-aisle aircraft allows.

We know all too well the pain points of international flying – the dreaded center section, the ‘choice’ of assembly-line chicken or beef, and the lack of connectivity. JetBlue is ready to change all that with our take on transatlantic travel where you are well taken care of and fully connected if you want to be.”

Let’s get into some of the details.

JetBlue’s fresh take on economy dining

JetBlue is collaborating with New York-based restaurant group Dig for its transatlantic economy catering, which will be complimentary. The airline is taking a new approach to dining compared to what we’ve seen at other airlines, and it’s modeled after the JetBlue Mint experience.

Rather than just serving set meals, JetBlue will make these meals customizable:

  • Passengers will have the option of choosing one of three main courses, each of which will be a protein or vegetable that comes with a base
  • Passengers will have the option of choosing two of three sides, with two of the options being hot, and one being chilled

JetBlue’s transatlantic economy catering

What kind of food should passengers expect? Dishes will vary seasonally, but you can generally expect:

  • Main courses like roasted chicken thigh over a base of brown rice with herbs, or spiced eggplant over coconut cauliflower quinoa
  • Side dishes like mac and cheese, or a mixed heirloom tomato salad
  • For morning departures, the menu will include a mix of sweet and savory items, like a mixed berry bread pudding, or a citrus salad with local honey

JetBlue’s transatlantic economy catering

Here are a few more details about the meal service:

  • Passengers will be able to place their meal orders directly through their seatback entertainment screens
  • There will be a sweet treat after the meal, and a light meal prior to arrival
  • In addition to the main meals, JetBlue will have a pantry with self-serve snacks and drinks
  • Meals will be served in reusable containers and cutlery will be made from a natural polymer

JetBlue’s complimentary beer, wine, and liquor

In addition to the excellent meal service, it’s worth calling out that JetBlue will offer complimentary soft drinks, coffee, tea, beer, wine, and liquor, in economy. Many other airlines (like American and United) don’t offer complimentary liquor in economy on transatlantic flights, so that’s a legitimate point of differentiation.

JetBlue’s complimentary entertainment & Wi-Fi

JetBlue is known for offering unlimited, complimentary Wi-Fi on all flights, and that will even be offered on transatlantic flights. That’s awesome, as there’s not currently an airline offering unlimited free Wi-Fi across the Atlantic in economy (La Compagnie offers free Wi-Fi, but it’s an all-business class airline, and operations are currently suspended).

Each seat will also have a 10.1″, 1080P high definition screen, giving passengers access to an extensive entertainment library, including live TV channels.

JetBlue A321LR economy cabin

JetBlue’s A321LR economy cabin layout

JetBlue’s A321LR economy cabin will feature just 114 seats (that’s an intimate cabin, thanks to how big the Mint cabin will be):

  • Seats will feature a minimum of 32″ of pitch, and be 18.4″ wide
  • There will be four rows of Even More Space, featuring up to six extra inches of legroom
  • Redesigned sidewalls will provide additional shoulder space and larger window bezels for increased spaciousness
  • Seats will feature enhanced cushion comfort and adjustable headrests
  • Each seat will have both AC and USB-C power ports
  • There will be seatback storage with mesh pockets

JetBlue A321LR economy cabin

My take on JetBlue’s transatlantic economy experience

Based on what has been announced so far, JetBlue’s new transatlantic economy experience sounds incredible:

  • The approach to meal service looks legitimately innovative, and like a welcome change from what customers are usually served in economy; hopefully the food is actually as good as it looks — while I’d usually be skeptical, JetBlue has done a great job with Mint food, so maybe this won’t be that different
  • Many will appreciate the free drink selection (including liquor), plus easy access to free snacks
  • Having complimentary unlimited Wi-Fi is a major point of differentiation

I just have one major concern — is JetBlue almost aiming to provide too much service, to the point that the service will take a really long time?

  • There are a lot of selections for passengers to make, so surely that will slow down the service, even if people are told to order via the seatback entertainment screen
  • The complimentary drink selection sounds better than at other airlines, so you can expect people may be asking for more drinks
  • Having a single aisle aircraft complicates meal service; if someone needs to use the restroom the service cart often needs to be moved around, and on top of that the plane doesn’t have as much galley space as a wide body

While the service sounds incredible for economy, I’d also expect it to take a while… and maybe that’s not a bad thing for those people who struggle to sleep in economy?

Bottom line

JetBlue has revealed the details of its transatlantic economy product, and it looks incredible. From a more customized meal service, to free liquor, to free Wi-Fi, to live TV, this product really looks as good as it could possibly be.

What do you make of JetBlue’s new transatlantic economy experience?

  1. Ben, there’s no such thing as “too much service!”

    I remember back in the days before your were born where dinner in First Class to Europe took almost 3 hours. THAT was service!

  2. This actually looks pretty good, for economy. I’m sure this will be popular.

    You’re right, though, about the meal complexity. If customers are clueless and whiney (nah, that could never happen…) cabin crews are going to be challenged to deliver and remain motivated. Most of all, the “generous” personal space and extra amenities are sure to be a hit.

    It’s so nice seeing an airline that isn’t competing in the Race To The Bottom. What a refreshing change. I hope they aren’t bought up by one of the big legacy airlines and killed off.

  3. I like it, especially the option to choose your sides. As an adult who frequently preorders the kids meal on international flights, at least I may have a better selection than I do on other airlines. By ordering from the screen, I think it will also space out the meal service…they won’t be trying to offer all 114 passengers dinner at the same time. I’m usually a Delta fan but I would give JetBlue a try!

  4. There will be a sweet treat after the meal, and a light meal prior to arrival

    –> when am I supposed to sleep eastbound?

  5. I will believe it when i see it. More likely than not they will say they have suspended this customized economy meal service “For your safety” and provide terrible microwave meals like everyone else in economy because their focus is “safety” for their passengers.

  6. Maybe I’m too negative but to me this reads like they cut down on everything else, e.g. no starter, no cheese & crackers, no bread & butter. And maybe I missed something but last time I checked beer, wine & liquor was included with most transatlantic network carriers, at least on the european side (outside of SAS).

    So I think you might just be overhyping this a tad too much. The free wifi and live tv on the other hand is nice.

  7. I’m here for this kind of disruption to the market; good luck to them – hope they make a success of it.

  8. Maybe they can do the service without the carts? I think in the Virgin America days, you’d order from the screen, and then the FAs would bring your items on trays or in their hands.

    But since most people will want to eat right away on an eastbound flight, maybe that won’t scale? Or will a lot of passengers just skip the meal and go right to sleep?

  9. I wonder if, to speed up service, they will have the option to and push customers in the direction of pre-selecting meals on the app or website beginning, say, 72 hours in advance of departure. That would also help reduce issues with supplying adequate amounts of popular and less-popular selections.

  10. “I will believe it when i see it. More likely than not they will say they have suspended this customized economy meal service “For your safety” and provide terrible microwave meals like everyone else in economy because their focus is “safety” for their passengers.”

    Well Steven I flew domestic Mint last week and they had essentially the full Mint experience.

    And it was delicious as usual.

  11. Surprised JetBlue would partner with Dig, which is basically completely out of business due to Covid.

  12. So there would be only 3 flight attendants servicing the mint cabin and the rest? I’m wondering how they can warm up the food and serving passengers with just 3 flight attendants.

  13. @Jeff that was my initial thought too, but it’s also why it makes sense for Dig. I used to love Dig so hopefully the quality is comparable. Definitely one of those places that makes you think you’re eating healthy but you are not at all, but still good!

  14. @Chris

    Literally any non-LCC airline? Lufthansa, Austrian, Air France, SAS, KLM, etc.

    Maybe to clarify, with starter I mean the little things that’s usually like a small salad, quinoa salad, cold cuts etc. With bread & butter I mean a roll or bread and a packaged butter with salt&pepper.

  15. Boston to London is not a long flight at all. Potentially serving (and collecting) 114 custom meals AND drinks on a single aisle aircraft in a reasonable amount of time will definitely be a challenge!

  16. Sounds great going stateside, but going east it could be annoying, agree with Flo. I would usually just skip the meal on the red eye (except for the “light meal” before landing), and try to catch some sleep…having the dinner meal time spread out on the red eye would likely be disruptive to some extent.

  17. Looks good to me. As soon as Canada lifts the travel restriction to the States, then I will be investigating the flights from Boston to London for an upcoming cruise in November.

  18. So essentially they are replicating the exact experience you’d get at Dig (choose proteins and sides). Dig has a near “cult” following in NYC, especially with the office crowd, because it’s always really fresh, tasty and healthy (and affordable). Even during this pandemic I’m still seeing a good amount of people going to the locations by me.
    It’ll be nice if they can replicate the same quality in the air; it’s definitely not Michelin star stuff, but just about a million steps up from regular economy food. Can’t wait to see what they’ll come up with in Mint.

  19. Back when I used to work in the office, my coworkers and I would order Dig Inn any day we worked late. They’re f$&@ing good and very healthy. Think minimal prep/processing, like a rotisserie chicken or roast beef, with some ancient grain like faro, spiced cauliflower purée, with candied pineapple for dessert. I lost a ton of weight eating from them.

  20. If the plan is to use the seatback screens to order, it wouldn’t be hard to extend that to the app to let customers preorder their meals. that would probably speed the service up.

  21. Kudos to jetblue on this service. Seat back touchscreens however, are a nightmare. Invariably there are pax who are heavy fingered. As a former Virgin America Gold / current B6 Mosaic with heavy transcon coach travel, I can attest to the fact that it’s annoying as hell when one has a heavy fingered D-Bag constantly tapping the back of the seat, whether for touchscreen meal orders or just channel flipping all flight.

  22. Does anyone know if they will include checked luggage like some legacy airlines do for transcon flights? Glad to see Jetblue moving this direction after they seemed to be going the other way for a few years there.

  23. They are going to be in the aisle serving this complexity food for the whole flight. The single aisle. Good luck getting up to go to the bathroom.

    And as Peter pointed out, Dig is not healthy, which I suppose is par for the course on a plane.

    This doesn’t seem impressive at all.

  24. It looks like vegetarians will not need to pre-order special meals, since there will be a vegetarian main course option on every flight!

    The photos look immaculate. Regarding healthiness, the mix and match options allow you to select healthier alternatives than the set menu offered by other airlines in economy. No one is holding a gun making you choose the griddled ham or mac and cheese.

  25. Real question is can they do day flights? Day flight to London would really make this fairly pleasant, if you don’t feel you need to sleep on the plane.

  26. As excited I am for Jet Blue to enter this market, and love the product offerings, I am really having a hard time understanding how this is sustainable. I assume the bean counters have it figured out – but given the costs involved in operating at Heathrow, the margins for this must be minimal, even assuming 100% load factors and fares to match the route during peak times. Assume as well that AA,DL, VS and UA are going to go hard against them in these markets and price seats so low that it becomes a money sucker, especially dangerous for a smaller carrier. Economy passengers are just not going to pay extra for thoughtful healthy meals and good wifi/live tv. We will see short term benefits for passengers with incredibly low fares to LHR as they battle it out, but my prediction is that Jet Blue will be the weakest link in this and cry uncle first and eventually pull out. Even Virgin Atlantic is struggling. I can totally see next fall huge fare wars and offers of $198 R/T to London. It’s going to be a bloodbath.

  27. @ArnoldB

    Someone who thinks airplane bread and cheese/crackers is a point of differentiation is probably someone who can do without eating airplane bread and cheese/crackers.

  28. Btw – United does offer free alcohol in economy for trans-Atlantic (and pretty much anything that is long haul).

    The only non-LCC I know of that charges for alcohol for trans-Atlantic is SAS.

  29. If the eastbound flight leaves late evening, most experienced pax will opt for sleep- it’s only six hours. Conversely it is only 114 max in coach. There was a day pre 9/11 when the coach cabin was served a fill meal on domestic of 90 minutes.

    If this does not to suit you, fly a legacy carrier where your expectations in coach will be met. Chicken or pasta?

  30. This is all sounds good but it sounds expensive compared to all the competitors. I can’t see how they can compete with the main airlines by offering so much more, unless they charge more for tickets(and people are paying more).

    I wonder if this is more of a loss leader strategy where they want to establish themselves and grab attention as an international/TATL airline with all these perks but that 1 year+ down the line, the service will slowly be scaled back due to prohibitive costs.

  31. @ArnoldB

    Guess you haven’t flown in the back on a U.S. carrier. AA and UA only serve complimentary beer and wine on trans-Atlantic flights. That’s why I’ll always defer to a European carrier whenever possible

    I love hearing so many people whining about “too much service”. If an airline offered less service, there would be griping also.

  32. 32” seat pitch is just passable on a night flight, not enough to actually stretch out and actually sleep though. Most of my Long haul flights over the decades have been heading eastwards from London. I thought all of them had 32” seat pitch apart from Qantas and BA. I remember 34” not too long ago on Thai airways and some others. At least the seats will not be as narrow as the 787s or new 10 abreast 777 configs where you are intertwining arms with your stranger neighbour. A premium economy style seat would have been a good idea worth paying for.

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