Trip report introduction: United Airlines Premium Transcon Business Class vs. JetBlue Mint (hahahaha!)

01. Introduction: United Airlines Premium Transcon Business Class vs. JetBlue Mint (hahahaha!)
02. United Airlines 737-900/ER first class San Diego to Los Angeles
03. United Club, Terminal 7 LAX
04. United Airlines 757-200 Premium Business Class (P.S.) Los Angeles to Newark
05. Sheraton hotel, JFK Airport
06. JetBlue A321 Mint (business class) New York (JFK) to San Diego

There’s really no point in making a big deal about this and being unnecessarily over dramatic, so I’m just going to say it: JetBlue Mint is far superior to United Airlines premium Transcon Business Class and it’s not really even fair to make it a competition. And now that I think about it, “far superior” may actually not be strong enough of a way to describe the difference. Words like “annihilate” and “destroy” are much more appropriate (as are phrases such as “wipes the floor with…”), but I’m trying really hard not to sound like a salty old critic who hates everything. After all, we all know that United’s Premium Transcon Business Class product (referred to as “P.S.”, which stands for “Premium Service”) between Los Angeles and New York is getting a bit dated, and just it might be the worst premium business class coast to coast right now. It’s not completely bad, but…hold on. I’m getting way ahead of myself here. I’ll save those thoughts for the actual trip report, so let’s back up a little bit so I can give you the rundown on how this trip came together…

The best airline products in the US right now are those that run from coast to coast between California and New York. It’s a very competitive market with Delta One, American Airlines and their killer A321 Flagship first class product, JetBlue Mint, United P.S., and Virgin America (which may actually be worse than United) all vying for customers with deep pockets needing to get to the other coast as comfortably as possible.

Unfortunately, my pockets are quite shallow, but over the past several years I’ve been fortunate enough to try Delta One, American A321T Flagship first class, and JetBlue Mint from coast to coast – and each one of those experiences was really good. However, I haven’t yet had the chance to try United and Virgin America between NY and LAX and it’s been slowly eating away at me.

It should be noted that I refuse to cash in United Mileage Plus or Virgin America Elevate points for this, simply because I’d get so much more bang for the buck using those valuable points for international business and first-class trips instead. I knew that the only way I’d be able to try either of these products is to pay for it out of my own (shallow) pocket, so I’ve been watching premium business-class fares like a hawk for a while now between Los Angeles and New York. Virgin America first class prices have always been borderline obscene – I’ve never once seen them offer a fare that didn’t cause me to mumble expletives. United, on the other hand, surprised me late last year with $600 one-way fares in their Premium Transcon Business Class product for many dates in late November. I couldn’t resist!

I’d also like to point out that JetBlue has recently started Mint service between JFK and San Diego. If you been reading my blog for at least a year, you should know by now that I’m a huge Mint fan and I’ve been itching to take advantage of the fact that one of the best business class products here in the US is now serving my home airport. Since I needed a way to get home from New York anyway, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to do a direct back-to-back comparison with United’s best offering at the moment. By the way, I had no problem at all cashing in JetBlue True Blue points for a one-way Mint experience from JFK to SAN. That’s an excellent use of points IMHO.

Here’s the full itinerary:

11/23/17 UA1289 737-900/ER first class San Diego to Los Angeles
11/23/17 UA2118 757-200 Premium Transcon Business Class Los Angeles to Newark
11/24/17 B6189 A321 Mint (business class) New York (JFK) to San Diego

OK then, I had my tickets, and I was headed to New York! But you know me, the destination is usually secondary when it comes to my travels, and I was much more looking forward to the flights than I was actually being in New York City again. Not that I don’t like New York City – it’s one of my favorite cities in all the world as a matter of fact, but New York City in late November can be bitterly cold (and I tend to avoid cold whenever possible). Additionally, the schedule was so tight that I wouldn’t have any time to enjoy being there, so it did seem kind of like a waste to go to New York and not see or do anything. No worries though, as I’m the kind a traveler who simply enjoys the act of moving. Just put me in a plane, train, or a car, and I’ll be bursting at the seams with wanderlust, grinning from ear to ear the entire time I’m in motion.

New York City, here I (briefly) come!

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