JetBlue has been long touting its desire to compete on the Transatlantic market. With the recent exit of Norwegian’s long haul operations, there’s certainly a slot to be filled in competitively priced disrupters, and JetBlue has jumped at the opportunity. However, it certainly means business, trying to take a slice of the highly lucrative Transatlantic Business Class market with a totally reimagined version of its popular Mint experience.
In comparison to its original 2014 product, JetBlue’s first complete redesign of Mint again sets a new standard – this time on transatlantic flights – featuring 24 private suites with a sliding door for every Mint customer, a custom-designed seat cushion by Tuft & Needle, and countless design touches that help every customer feel at home in the air.
However, following the ‘First class for free’ trends of China Eastern, Malaysia Airlines and other international carriers, the airline has also made a premium suite right at the front of the narrow-body. In a mini Etihad Residence approach, JetBlue will also introduce the Mint Studio, which will offer the most bed space in a premium experience from any U.S. airline.
“Mint was an idea to make premium travel across the U.S. less stuffy and more affordable, and its performance has exceeded even our most optimistic expectations of going beyond New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco,” said Joanna Geraghty, president and chief operating officer, JetBlue. “It’s remarkable how Mint’s thoughtful design has resonated with customers as we successfully grew it to more than 30 routes. We put our heart into this redesign of Mint and were inspired by our original vision of offering customers an exceptional experience at a lower fare – which is what JetBlue is all about.”
The first major design overhaul of Mint – designed in partnership with Acumen Design Associates – will launch on JetBlue’s highly anticipated London flights this summer, with a smaller layout of just 16 seats debuting on a limited number of flights between New York and Los Angeles in 2021.
Inspired by the popularity of the four private suites in its current Mint configuration, JetBlue’s transatlantic Mint will offer more privacy with 24 individual Thompson Vantage Solo suites, the new standard of narrow-body business class originally conceived by UK based design company Factorydesign. Acumen have brought the product in line with JetBlue’s passenger experience and branding touch points including fitting a tilting 17-inch Thales AVANT seat-back screen, privacy doors, wireless charging capabilities, an integrated phone ledge for multitasking, and easy-to-reach in-seat power, as well as laptop, shoe and handbag stowage.
JetBlue is the launch carrier for Thompson Aero Seating’s Vantage Solo seat, the herringbone configuration seating solution developed by TAS and conceived by Factorydesign specifically for narrow-body aircraft and further customised for JetBlue by Acumen.
Right at the front, the all-new Mint Studio has utilised the Vantage Solo seat layout to create a mini suite-like cabin, pulled together by Acumen in partnership with AIM Altitude. Much like Etihad’s Residence, the Mint Studio will become the flagship product for the airline, and through a halo-effect will elevate JetBlue’s position across the Atlantic.
Each aircraft will have two Mint Studios in the first row, providing ample room for working or relaxing, and featuring a larger 22-inch tilting Thales AVANT seat-back screen, an extra side table for added productivity, and a guest seat that can accommodate an additional Mint customer during flight at cruising altitude.
Continuing the carrier’s approach to enhancing the soft products, JetBlue partnered with Tuft & Needle, an innovative mattress company that pioneered the bed-in-a-box trend, to shape the entire Mint sleep experience onboard.
The seat complements additional sleep amenities developed in partnership with the brand, including a convertible blanket with a built-in foot pocket, a memory foam lined pillow with a pillowcase, and a snooze kit with a matching eye mask and earplugs.
Following the residential-like trends that we’ve been talking about on TheDesignAir, JetBlue’s latest version of Mint features a warm, home-like design. Residential textures, such as flannel-covered privacy dividers, concrete lampshades, woodgrain table patterns and soft, vegan leather-covered seats and headrests, create a space full of tactility and familiarity.
Custom-created suite gradient panels bring light into the cabin, while patterned door shrouds with the signature Mint leaf make a bold brand statement in a functional way. Mood lighting – another advancing trend – comes in to play, thanks to Airbus’ Airspace cabin features. First-of-its-kind mood lighting enhances the inflight experience, and a welcoming blue floor arc helps direct the customer boarding flow.
The product is a clever culmination of design processes, a forward-thinking carrier wishing to carve a niche for itself, as well as the technological advancements that Airbus’ A321 LR Neo new Airspace cabin provides. It will be great to see how the airline holds up across the Atlantic when it launches later this year. But considering JetBlue’s usually low-fares, it certainly will be one carrier to watch over the coming years. Well done, to all the design teams involved.