Upgrading to JetBlue Mint from Coach

Nov 5, 2014

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I recently had the chance to fly JetBlue’s Mint Business Class between New York (JFK) and Los Angeles. While I wasn’t able to sit in one of the private, closed-door suites, I was impressed with the lie-flat seats and overall service, and am hopeful that JetBlue will expand Mint to a wider route network.

The 80-inch-long lie-flat seats on JetBlue's Mint business class are the longest in the industry
Jetblue Mint sports 80-inch-lie-flat seats, the longest in the industry.

Aside from getting to experience Mint for myself, I learned something about JetBlue’s upgrade policy that I wanted to share with my readers.

Right before takeoff, a flight attendant seated a passenger next to me who had been upgraded from coach. He said he had been impressed by the Mint cabin and asked about upgrading, and was told he could move up for $350. His upgrade was then processed at the gate. Curious whether JetBlue was testing on-board upgrades, I contacted JetBlue and received the following response:

“You can’t upgrade on the plane but you can always change your ticket with an agent by paying the fare difference for a Mint seat. But it’s fare difference – not a set upgrade charge of $500 or similar that some carriers have.  There is also no change fee when upgrading a ticket (but if you change flights there is).”

While $500 is a bit of an exaggeration for a domestic upgrade on other carriers, JetBlue’s policy is pretty benign, and could be useful when the fare difference is relatively small between coach and Even More Space (JetBlue’s version of premium economy) or Mint. It’s worth checking availability and price in the premium seats if you’re traveling on an expensive coach ticket.

Paid upgrades could be a good option if the price of Mint falls.

For example, the above itinerary from New York to Los Angeles shows a price difference of $354 between coach and Mint. However, it’s also important to note the difference between the coach price and the $599 starting price for Mint (in this case only $144). If demand wanes for whatever reason, and the price of Mint drops after you’ve already purchased your coach ticket, the option to upgrade would become much more attractive.

The opportunity is the same if you’re on an award fare; you can upgrade for the difference (in points) between what you paid and the current cost of the seat you want. For example, if you had booked the itinerary below to fly coach from New York to San Francisco for Christmas, you could upgrade to Mint for just 6,900 points!

You can also upgrade using points, but only on award tickets.

Note that you can’t use points to upgrade a paid ticket, and you can’t use cash to upgrade an award ticket – you have to upgrade with the same method you used to purchase your ticket originally.

Mint already offers the best value for JetBlue award redemptions, but it’s a no-brainer if you can upgrade for such a small amount. If you have plans to fly JetBlue soon, or if you’ve already booked a flight, keep an eye on your upgrade options to see if you can score a business class seat for a marginal fare increase.

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