Trip Report: 1. Airport 2. The Flight 4. IFE+Suite 5. Overall
T3 at LAX; "The Dungeon"
I arrived to Terminal 3 at LAX through another aircraft so I did not get the opportunity to check-in or use my "Even More Speed" privileges. I have flown into LAX many times before so I thought I knew what to expect. In the past, I arrived to Terminal 4 and Terminal 5. I knew LAX needed some work but I never knew it was this bad. Terminal 3 is a trashed filled dungeon. Th lighting is poor, the shopping and dinning is a joke, and it is downright disgusting. I was lucky I only had to spend around an hour at LAX.
There is no lounge for JetBlue premium passengers but you can purchase a one-day pass at the Virgin America Loft which I've heard is pretty nice. JetBlue has a pretty poor set-up at the airport. T3 is used by the low-cost carriers and ultra-low-cost carriers so you can meet some pretty interesting characters waiting for their flight.
At the Gate...
The JetBlue gates overcrowd very quickly as there is much room. They are cold, dark, and depressing. I'd recommend trying to spend as little time at T3 as possible. The gate agents however were very quick to update us on departure time and boarding time as we did have a 25 minute or so delay.
I had never had been this excited for a flight since my flight in the American Airlines 777-200 Flagship First Class. I was really eager to board so the delay was just that much worse. At 9:25 or so, we boarded beginning with Mint Class.
Boarding and Early Service...
I had heard that the JetBlue boarding process was one big free-for-all on various airline forums so I was not looking forward to the next few minutes. Surprisingly this was not the case. The gate agent specifically announced that it was time to board and said explicitly, "We will begin with Mint Class so please have a seat until your group is called". The gate agent addressed me by name and said "Thank you Mr. Prosperi for flying with us in Mint tonight". Little things like that make the experience all that more enjoyable.
One downside of the Airbus a321s on Transcon routes is the fact that you kind of have to board through the forward galley main door vs the second door in order to not beat up the engines and wings. This ultimately caused me to feel rushed. However, this isn't jetBlue's fault, as a matter a fact it will reduce the rate of mechanical delays by eliminating the risk of damaging the aircraft. There was however, a little gap between Mint and Main Cabin boarding so I got a short opportunity to organize my things however it was still shorter than I wanted. Another downside of having to board through the main door is Mint service starts the second we board with pre-departure service and an intro to the service so the flight attendants must fight the other passengers boarding while trying to serve the Mint cabin.
Pre-departure service was fantastic. Both Mint flight attendants introduce themselves to you personally and welcome you on-board. The purser then gives you a quick intro to the Mint experience. Coleen, the purser on my flight was amzing. She personally shook my hand and gave a spot-on intro to the flight. This intro previews service and shows you the aspects of the cabin. Also at this time, you can chose to either take part in the service for that flight (dinner, hot towels, dessert, the Birchbox, etc.) or sleep. This is also the time in which the signature Mint cocktail is served. You can take the cocktail with or without alcohol. The cocktail is a mix of tea, lime, mint, and spices. It is very soothing and tangy and actually settled down my somewhat upset stomach. Rather or not you like tea if you get the opportunity, just try it.
Meal service begins with the purser coming out and asking if you will be "joining us for dinner". If you are, you are handed a menu. At this time you are also told about the "Wake Me For Service" button located in your suite. A paper place mate is also placed over the generously sized tray table.
Course 1: The Main Course "Tapas Style Dinner"
There is no starter course but it was a red-eye so I was lucky I was getting what I got. Rather than choosing three of five you are only offered three options on the red-eye all of which are served chilled.
The poached salmon was the best of the three tapas options. It tasted fresh and and was full of flavor. It was served with grapefruit and garnishes. The grapefruit went well with the salmon.
The Kale Salad was pretty tasty. It was a version of a Cobb salad. Chicken, bacon, fresh avocado, tomato, and a deviled egg made this salad pretty tasty. When all the toppings were gone the salad lost its flavor as the kale itself was quite bitter.
The third tapas plate was vegetable crudite. It was a bit much, in my opinion. I did have an upset stomach and the baba ghanoush did't go well with it so I didn't have much of it. Some of the veggies were pretty tasty and some were surprisingly bitter. This dish will be memorable but for the wrong reasons.
Course 2: Dessert
The 2nd course was a fruit salad and strawberry sorbet from Bluemarble Ice Cream Parlor in Brooklyn, NY. I'm one to go for the traditional lava cake or cheesecake dessert but this served its purpose. The fruit salad was one of the most fresh mix of fruit I've tasted and the sorbet was pretty good as well.
Course 3: Breakfast "Cheese & Chive Biscuit Sandwich"
This was probably the best of the three courses. A good ole' breakfast sandwich! It was packed with flavor and tided me over until mid-morning.
Course 4ish: Pre-Departure Snack from Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery in NYC
Before you land you are given a box with two treats from Mah-Ze-Dahr bakery located in NYC. You can't neglect this little box, you've go to try those little snacks! I was given the chocolate covered marshmallow and sometime of cookie-brownie combo.
The meal service is different from that provided on the legacy carriers. Rather than creating their own meals, JetBlue consults Saxon+Parole and Bluemarble to create their in-flight dinning. Overall it was a pretty good experience especially for a red-eye.
I am always amazed to what airlines are able to do with these a321s and 757s on these routes. Though it was an a321 it felt like a widebody. There was ample space and reserved over-head bin storage. There was extremely blue moonlighting illuminating the cabin as well. Mint Class had only four more people in the cabin so that only enhanced the experience. I felt like I was the only one on the aircraft.
One of the craziest parts of booking is being able to choose a suite for $0 more! Of course I did so. The suite is amazing. There was enough space to accommodate all of my electronics, service items, and both carry-on bags.
The seat is quite long but not the widest seat ever. It can be somewhat uncomfortable when trying to get positioned to sleep. The seat itself has very restrictive controls. You are not able to recline the back of the seat unless you choose either the sleep or relax modes. The only thing that moves freely is the leg rest. This was the biggest drawback of the seat. It's filed with air so the thickness can be adjusted and a massaging feature is also available. Overall, it is a pretty fantastic product.
The suite has ample storage. I got a little overwhelmed with all of the cubbies, lockers, and bins to fill stuff up with. Along with ample storage there is ample power outlets, three in all. They are universal and appear to charge just as fast as a wall outlet on the ground (an issue in the past with aircraft outlets is the reduced output that resulted in painfully slow charging speeds).
The most awesome feature of the whole entire suite is the retractable door! This is the first US carrier to offer closed suites. With the flick of a switch the door closes and encloses you in your own little room. I wish every First Class seat offered this.
JetBlue revolutionized the premium class amenity kit along side Mint Class. Rather than give you an airline selected amenity kit with subpar lotions and lip balm, JetBlue gives you a constantly updated Birchbox with lotions, pomade, aftershave, and even a wipe to remove odors from your clothes. Birchbox offers a female and male version of the amenity kit. The Birchbox is updated monthly.
The in-Flight Entertainment
There really wasn't anything special about the IFE other than the live TV and free (in BETA testing) "flyfi" (Wifi). The wifi was actually really spotty but when it worked it was fast and efficient. The JetBlue IFE offers:
Honestly, if it wasn't for the DirecTV, the IFE would be one of the worst offered on this route. AA, DL, and VX easily beat B6 on the Transcon IFE offerings.
I couldn't have asked for a better Mint Class experience. The crew was outstanding, attentive, and more than willing to serve you 24/7. Mint Class is really unique. I have flown AA, DL, and VX on this route now and I don't know rather the AA Flagship First or B6 Mint Class Suite is my favorite. JetBlue really snuck it's way into the premium class "war" on the LAX/SFO-JFK routes.
I definitely recommend JetBlue's Mint Class. Downright fantastic experience!
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