Today JetBlue revealed plans for rolling out its new “Mint” business class service on flights between New York-JFK and the West Coast.
What does this mean for Bay Area Travelers – BATs? It means that the price of transcon business class flying could tumble as competing airlines lower fares to snag those highly sought-after, full-fare-paying business travelers. Currently, front-of-the-plane roundtrip fares on United, Virgin America, Delta and American nonstops are in the painful $3,000 to $4,000 range.
JetBlue’s roundtrip, nonstop business class fares of $1,200, announced today, are bound to put downward pressure on those sky high fares as other airlines lower or match it to maintain their market share in this lucrative market.
Details revealed today about the new “Mint” class:
>New lie-flat business class seats, several of which will include a sliding door that creates a semi-private suite. Each seat has 15″ video screens and power outlets. JetBlue claims it will have the longest lie-flat bed on the route, “up to 6’8″.
>While it remains to be seen, JetBlue is promising that its new satellite-based wi-fi system Fly-fi will be faster and more reliable that what’s currently available on other carriers. (Currently, JetBlue does not offer wi-fi, which is a big reason more Bay Area Travelers have stayed away.)
>A new “tapas-style” menu, pre-flight cocktails and an onboard espresso maker.
>JetBlue will deploy new Airbus A321 aircraft on its transcon routes, which will include new coach class seats with a roomy 33 inches of pitch in standard coach, 37″ in “Even More Space,” and all seats will have access to electrical outlets. (JetBlue’s current coach seat offers 34″ of pitch).
But it’s going to be a while before we see the new service at SFO. As usual, LAX gets the goodies first, starting next June. JetBlue says the “Mint experience will be introduced on flights between JFK and San Francisco in the fourth quarter of 2014, with all five JFK-SFO flights offering Mint by the end of first quarter 2015.”
What’s the competition saying about this? Virgin America spokesperson Jennifer Thomas told The BAT, ”Although lie flats are a great added amenity for international flights and red-eyes, we remain confident we have the right cabin mix for U.S. domestic business travelers, who enjoy not only our plush seating (First Class has 165 degree recline – so nearly lie-flat), but the award-winning service experience delivered by our teammates, and amenities like guaranteed WiFi and power outlets along with live TV and entertainment.”
Would you switch loyalties and jump on a JetBlue flight for $1,200 business class round trip to NYC? Please leave your comments below.