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Why I'm excited about JetBlue's Mint expansion — and you should be too

June 18, 2020
5 min read
JetBlue Mint A321 cabin
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Earlier Thursday, JetBlue announced that it's going to be expanding its route network over the next few months. While most airlines are looking to cut routes during the global pandemic, the New York-based carrier has launched service on 30 new routes, beefing up its presence in some Florida focus cities and some smaller outstations like Philadelphia.

Most interestingly, though, is the fact that JetBlue is bringing its TPG award-winning Mint business class to two new transcon routes. Starting July 23, JetBlue will fly between Newark (EWR) and Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO) on its Mint-equipped Airbus A321.

Here's why that's great news.

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Drive down fares

When Mint was introduced five years ago, JetBlue promised to disrupt the transcontinental business-class market. And disrupt it did.

Aside from the industry-leading hard product, JetBlue's pricing strategy forced the competition to adapt to the new reality. Before Mint, the legacy carriers were charging thousands of dollars for flights in biz between the coasts. They could fill their premium cabins with corporate flyers who had deep expense accounts.

JetBlue Mint suite (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

When JetBlue started pricing Mint at around $500 each way, American, Delta and United began matching these fares. Five years later and it's pretty easy to find a one-way biz seat between New York and Los Angeles starting at around $500 — on every carrier.

Now, with Mint's Newark expansion there's going to be even more pressure on United (which has a mega-hub in Newark) to compete head-to-head with the new offering. This could start a fare war between the two, which would likely spell the end of the last-minute, sky-high United transcon fares.

Related: The Mint Effect — Why transcon business fares are dropping

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A great way to socially distance

Premium cabins offer a lot more space than coach seats, making them a great way to socially distance onboard. JetBlue's Mint offering is perhaps the best way to maximize your personal space on a domestic flight.

Of the 16 seats in the Mint cabin, four of them are suites. Rows 2 and 4 are arranged in a 1-1 configuration, and each suite has two large tables, as well as a door. Of the premium transcon products, Mint suites are definitely the most private.

But even if the suites are already assigned when you're booking, Mint is still a great product for social distancing. That's because JetBlue is one of the airlines that's capping the number of seats sold in order to keep middle seats unoccupied. In Mint, that means six of the 16 seats will remain unoccupied. So even if you end up in one of the couple seats, you won't have a stranger next to you.

Related: Review of JetBlue Mint on the A321

Added choice for flyers based in New York

Depending on where you live or are headed in the tri-state area, you're going to want to choose your airport carefully. The three major New York-area airports, JFK, LaGuardia and Newark, each have their pros and cons.

At JFK, there's already plenty of competition on the premium transcon route. American, Delta and JetBlue all fly multiple daily frequencies between the coasts. At Newark, United's the only carrier with lie-flat seats to California. (LaGuardia doesn't have any transcon routes due to its perimeter rule.)

JetBlue Airbus A320 at Newark (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Along with the fact that Mint service from Newark should drive down the ticket prices, there's also the added convenience for anyone based in New Jersey or other points in tri-state area looking for more premium options closer to home. (Just remember that JetBlue flies from Newark's dated Terminal A.)

Related: JFK vs. LaGuardia vs. Newark: Which NYC airport should I fly into?

United could improve its premium transcon offering

In response to JetBlue's Mint expansion, United will likely start feeling some competitive pressure. Aside from matching or lowering its fares, UA may decide to improve its offering to convince flyers to stick with the legacy carrier.

When I last flew from Newark to Los Angeles, I was disappointed by United's ground experience and limited inflight amenities. Maybe United will decide to admit premium transcon passengers into the Polaris Lounge. Likewise, UA could improve its amenity kit too.

Only time will tell how United responds, but the Chicago-based carrier will definitely be monitoring the developments closely.

Related: Comparing premium transcon flights in the age of coronavirus

Bottom line

Mint service from Newark is great news across the board.

For one, we'll likely see a fare war between JetBlue and United, driving down the prices in the market. Additionally, United may improve its offering in an effort to convince flyers to remain loyal. Mint also offers one of the best cabins for onboard social distancing, and Newark is a more convenient airport for lots of people based in the tri-state area.

All in all, of JetBlue's 30 new routes, I'm most excited about the introduction of Mint service to Newark.

Featured image by (Photo by Zach Griff / The Points Guy)

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  • Earn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel site
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Apply for Credit One Bank Wander® Card
at Credit One Bank's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for earning alternative rewards for travel purchases
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel partner site
5XEarn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
1XEarn 1x points on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel

    Earn 10,000 Bonus Points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    Fair/Good

Why We Chose It

The revamped Wander Card from Credit One Bank earns cardmembers up to 10 points per dollar spent on eligible travel purchases. With no foreign transaction fees, the card is also great for international travel. However, points earned from this card can only be used at a fixed value, so it may not be the best option for those striving to get maximum value from their rewards.

Pros

  • This card has no foreign transaction fees and earns up to 10 points per dollar on travel purchases through the Credit One Bank travel partner site.

Cons

  • While cardholders can earn a significant amount of points on travel purchases, there isn't any way to redeem points from the Wander Card for maximum value (beyond 1 cent per point).
  • Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel
  • Earn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel site
  • Earn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
  • Earn 1x points on all other purchases
  • Redeem your reward points for statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, flights, hotels, and more
  • With $0 Fraud Liability, you won’t be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Free Online Credit Score and Credit Report summary, terms apply
  • If you are a Covered Borrower under the Military Lending Act, you may get a different offer
  • See Rates & Fees