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
I’d like to take a moment and kick this trip report off with a gigantic “THANK YOU” to JetBlue for coming to their senses and bringing their amazing Mint business class product to San Diego last year. Of all the route and service announcements that we had involving San Diego International Airport in 2017, this is the only one that caused me to unconsciously blurt out a hearty “hell yes!” as soon as I read the news. It wouldn’t have been so bad if I wasn’t in a staff meeting at the time, so I had to compose myself quickly by pretending to be in full agreement with what our division lead was saying about our quarterly numbers. But hey – playing it cool at work when travel is all I can think about is a specialty of mine, and I walked out of that meeting happier about Mint than I was about another successful quarter. Priorities, man. Priorities.
New York, NY (JFK) – San Diego, CA (SAN)
Friday, November 24, 2017
Duration: 5 hours 13 minutes
Seat: 4F (Mint / business class)
My arm was still pretty sore as we pulled up to terminal 5 at JFK on the hotel shuttle bus, but overall I was in pretty good spirits. Hey – you try patting yourself on your back for making such a good hotel choice with such convenient access to the airport, and tell me that doesn’t hurt after a few seconds!
The last time I flew JetBlue out of JFK was nearly 2 years ago, and I remember very clearly not being able to find a dedicated priority line for security. I remember it because the regular line was obnoxiously long, and it took forever to get through. I wasn’t going to make that same mistake this time however, and I took my time to scout out the area for that priority lane which would hopefully get me through security as quickly as possible.
The good news is I found the priority lane. The bad news was that it didn’t seem to be going any faster than the regular lane, and I still ended up having to wait for quite a long time to make it all the way through. This lane was much shorter of course, but the problem was that they were letting flight crews use it and there were apparently a lot of flights going out that morning. I’m pretty sure that I could’ve stood in the regular line and made it through just as fast. I mean slow.
Once the TSA deemed me not to be a threat, first priority was trying to find some breakfast. Hitting a really cool JetBlue lounge would have been the top priority for this morning, but since those don’t exist, I was relegated to finding a convenience store or cafe which had some semi-healthy breakfast items available. I found one near my gate, and after paying $12 for a banana, small cup of yogurt, and a bottle of water, I was on my way. Sheesh. I knew I was going to eat very well on the plane, so thinking back on it, I have no idea why I paid so much for so little. Travel can be expensive at times!
Normally I’m a good little trip reporter who takes thorough notes during my travels, but looking through my scribbles from this flight, I didn’t seem to mention anything about how accurate the boarding time was. I guess we boarded on time, because we actually arrived in San Diego a little bit early so I’m assuming that means there were no delays along the way.
Once on board, it felt oddly like being home. I love JetBlue Mint, mostly because of how enthusiastic and happy the flight attendants are. The first thing greeting me on this flight was a card sitting on my seat which was hand-signed by both flight attendants. When’s the last time you got one of those flying American, Delta, or United? I tell you what, these little details make all the difference!
30 seconds later I was greeted by a very cheery Misch-ka who asked me if this was my first time flying JetBlue Mint. The fact that I was taking pictures of everything probably gave her every reason to assume that I was a newbie flyer, and I sensed a look of disappointment on her face when I told her that this wasn’t my first rodeo, and no, it was not necessary to show me all the features of the seat. She seemed very eager to do it though, which again, is just another little detail which puts all the other US airlines to shame.
She also offered me the signature JetBlue Mint pre-departure drink, referred to as a “RefreshMint”. Basically it’s just a sugary minty-flavored alcoholic drink, which normally wouldn’t sound appealing to me at all, but she was so nice and it was kind of a special occasion, so what the hell. Sure, I’ll have one – on the rocks please.
From that point forward, the pushback and departure was all eerily similar to the flight I took from JFK to LAX back in October 2015. The weather was exactly the same, and I was even sitting in the exact same seat. We even took off from the same runway so our entire taxi sequence was the same as well. That’s not a complaint by the way. Just sitting there, alone, in my JetBlue Mint private suite anticipating a great flight across the country in maximum comfort (and style) is a pretty darn good feeling.
Hot towels were distributed as we were making our way to cruising altitude. Smoothies were poured as well.
The flight attendants also came around taking our brunch orders, and for some reason or another I just couldn’t seem to decide what I wanted to eat. If you’re not familiar with the JetBlue Mint menu, you are presented with five items and you are allowed to choose any three to make any combination you want. I think part of the problem for me this morning was the fact that I wasn’t really all that hungry and there just didn’t seem to be anything on the menu that stood out to me as a gotta-have item. That’s not to say that the choices were bad or anything – as a matter fact it all looked very fancy and delicious, but I was just kind of in a picky mood at that moment and I just didn’t see anything there that I wanted to shove into my belly as soon as humanly possible.
In the end, I decided to go with the salmon, French toast, and polenta.
The meal ended up being very good, and I was sufficiently stuffed afterwards and in desperate need of putting the seat into a lie flat position and getting some rest. Because hey – what’s more healthy than gorging yourself on bucket loads of rich delicious food and then laying down to take a nap for four hours? Not to sound like a party pooper, but I think if I traveled any more than I do now, I’d probably skip many of these fancy meals and eat something more healthy in between flights.
I succeeded admirably in being a lazy bum for our entire journey across the country today and I didn’t even put the seat back fully upright until we were on our descent into San Diego. By that time the flight attendants were coming around with the signature JetBlue pre-landing snack, which today happened to be a pair of delicious-looking sugar cookies. I didn’t eat them at the time considering how fat and ashamed I felt after eating so much earlier, but I did devour them about three weeks later and they were still fresh and pretty darn delicious.
Arriving into San Diego in a premium business class product was slightly on the mind-blowing side of things for me. I’ve never arrived home in such style (and comfort) and I’ve got to say that it was quite a neat feeling flying all the way across the country from New York like this. A comfy seat with great service makes all the difference in the world in terms of feeling fresh and chipper as I step off the plane, and I don’t think I’ve ever felt more energetic after arriving into San Diego after a five hour flight.
Thanks again to JetBlue for bringing Mint to San Diego! Not only because it’s the best business class seat in the US right now, but because it’s making American, Delta, and United squirm uncomfortably as they realize they are losing market share on transcontinental routes in and out of San Diego. The good news is that at the time of this writing, both Delta and United have dedicated at least one daily flight to New York from SAN with proper lie-flat business class equipped aircraft. We’re still waiting to see whether or not American Airlines wants to jump in and partake in any of this action. Considering how much of a presence they have here in San Diego and how important New York City is to them, I think it’s only a matter of time before we see some A321T’s here in America’s Finest City.