While we covered JetBlue’s fantastic new Mint product recently, the airline certainly kept our eyes at the front of the aircraft, as we thought that’s where the magic was going to happen. However, it seems when it comes to Economy Class travel, the airline has decided to firmly position itself as a challenger to the full-service carriers hopping across the Atlantic.
The airline has announced today what those travelling in Economy Class will receive a fantastic new offering too, and on paper, it’s got a lot of potential. Each of the 114 customers onboard will benefit from wider 18.4” seats and a healthy 32” pitch (although the Even More Space seats have up to an additional 6” on top of that), and an inflight pantry on top of the usual perks like touchscreen IFE, in seat power and WiFi.
But that’s not what is impressive. Leading the charge for JetBlue’s ‘Core’ Economy Class experience is the airline’s new dining offering brought to life by New York based farm-to-table restaurant group Dig which challenges the economy dining concept – in a good way.
“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,” said Jayne O’Brien, head of marketing and loyalty, JetBlue. “We know all too well the pain points of international flying – the dreaded centre 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 Trans-Atlantic travel where you are well taken care of and fully connected if you want to be.”
In addition, customers will have access to a curated selection of live TV channels focused on news and sports, and an extensive library of seatback entertainment – allowing customers to have a multiple screen experience onboard, just like they do at home.
But what about JetBlue’s first complimentary meal service in core? Unlike the traditional meals being served on other airlines today, JetBlue’s transatlantic food offering will put the customer in control, allowing them to customize their own meal right on their seatback screen – let’s hope the complication of service doesn’t slow down the delivery though.
Customers will have the option to choose one of three main seasonal selections including a protein or vegetable that comes with a base, and two out of three hot and chilled side options. Menu items will feature hearty offerings, such as roasted chicken thigh over a base of brown rice with herbs and spiced eggplant over coconut cauliflower quinoa, with sides including Dig’s beloved mac and cheese and a mixed heirloom tomato salad sourced directly from Dig Acres in upstate New York.
For morning departures, the menu will include a mix of sweet and savoury breakfast dishes, including a mixed berry bread pudding and citrus salad with local honey.
Again the carrier is setting its stall firmly in building out the passenger experience, something more akin to Virgin Atlantic’s staple than other carriers on the busy and lucrative US-UK routings. Whether it’s the complimentary drinks including beer, wine and liquor or the self-serve grab and go snack basket in the onboard pantry.
They’re ticking all the sustainability boxes too, without heading down the paper and cardboard route. Keeping true to its commitment, JetBlue will serve its meals in reusable containers and provide customers with cutlery made from a natural polymer.
“When we shook up premium travel with Mint, one of the biggest ‘wow’ moments for our customers was our fresh take on dining. Great food doesn’t have to be limited to the premium cabin, and our customers in core also deserve a dining experience that is thoughtfully prepared and offers choices,” said O’Brien. “Dig has earned a big following in New York, Boston and Philadelphia, where customers love the fresh ingredients and customizable concept. We wanted customers in the air to have the same freedom to design their own meal, just like they would if they were dining at a Dig restaurant.”
Because JetBlue’s aircraft feature the Airspace cabin by Airbus means a lot more to economy passengers than it would its Mint passengers as well. The overhead bins have more capacity meaning less concerns of getting everything onboard, custom mood lighting that will make the flight more relaxing and no less than 4 onboard lavatories (of course featuring subway tile patterns) making for smaller queues prior to landing.
On paper, this is a winning formula of innovative economy class passenger service, larger more comfortable seats and all the technological advancements a modern traveller would need. While the food concept is certainly innovative, and we’d relish the chance of enjoying a meal like this, with Trans-Atlantic crossings sometimes circa the 5-hour mark, there’s a question if such a complicated food delivery system will work on red-eye flights, but with a smidge of great training, the crew will no doubt be able to master this service offering in just a matter of time.