JetBlue today announced a brand new Mint business class cabin for its upcoming Airbus A321LR and some A321neo aircraft. This new Mint hard product will give all passengers direct aisle access and provide plenty of real estate for a business class product, let alone a narrowbody business class product. With JetBlue targeting a summer launch of London flights, the carrier’s Airbus A321LRs are set to shake up the transatlantic market.
JetBlue launches a new Mint product
Before delving into an analysis of how the new Mint product will shake up the market, let us start first with the product itself. The new Mint is Thompson Aero Seating’s Vantage(SOLO) seat. This herringbone configuration is specifically designed for a private, lie-flat business class experience.
All seats will feature additional storage space and a large seatback screen. The Mint Studios, the two seats in the first row, will offer more room and a larger seat, which also has room for a guest to join a traveler during the flight at cruising altitude.
The door for each seat will also create a personalized cocoon for each traveler, which is becoming a much-loved feature across business class products.
The initial routes
There are few markets in the world that command the revenue premium, and business traveler count as New York to London. American Airlines, British Airways, Delta Air Lines, and Virgin Atlantic all fly to London out of New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). JetBlue is expected to launch London flights out of JFK as well. In New Jersey, out of Newark (EWR), United and British Airways both fly to London.
Turning to Boston, American Airlines, British Airways, Delta Air Lines, and Virgin Atlantic all fly between Boston and London. JetBlue is the largest carrier out of Boston and will also be launching London flights from Massachusetts.
By the time the summer rolls around, airlines are putting some of their best products on the route between New York and London. There is the new British Airways Club Suite that can be found on retrofitted Boeing 777s. Some British Airways flights out of Boston will run with the airline’s old Club World product.
Virgin Atlantic flies a mix of planes on the route, including its herringbone-configured Airbus A330 and Boeing 787s. However, its latest and greatest product is the new Upper Class seat on the Airbus A350-1000s.
American Airlines offers its reverse herringbone Flagship Business product on the route. Some of its flights are operated by four-class Boeing 777-300ERs, while three-class Boeing 777-200ERs operate others. The Boeing 777-300ERs have a proper international first class product, whereas the -200ERs do not.
Delta Air Lines flies a Boeing 767 on the route. While many will conjure up the image of a Boeing 767-300ER, Delta is flying its retrofitted Boeing 767-400ERs from Boston and New York to London. These planes recently underwent a multi-million dollar refresh to offer a more private experience and add a new premium economy cabin.
United Airlines flies its new Polaris business class product on the route. The carrier’s planes are flying to London with a whopping 46 business class seats in a premium-heavy configuration onboard Boeing 767-300ERs.
JetBlue will be instantly competitive on the route. The carrier’s business class product is private, it is modern, and it is spacious. This is a recipe for success. There is another thing to recognize. JetBlue’s fares are likely to be lower on this route than some of those carriers, as the airline’s CEO alluded to late last year.
Nonstop tickets for roundtrip travel in business class on these two routes usually end up being in the $2,000+ range, though, as with all routes, there are some sweet spots with lower fares. JetBlue is likely to come in under that as it seeks to stake its claim in the market. Even if JetBlue does match these established carriers’ fares on the routes, it will still be insanely competitive.
Undoubtedly, American, Virgin, British Airways, and Delta hope that their existing corporate contracts and legacy travelers will stick with them and help them stay competitive and profitable, even with JetBlue coming on the route.
JetBlue will expand its services
Delta Air Lines and United Airlines are the top players out of the New York area globally right now. While United has a massive Newark hub, Delta’s JFK hub is large but in a highly competitive market, especially given JetBlue’s presence. Delta has done well in New York thanks to its reputation with travelers and ability to offer international connections. This will soon change with JetBlue.
London is the most high-profile destination for JetBlue, but the carrier has made it no secret it wants to look at other underserved markets or else feature lackluster service. This could lead to service to Rome, where Delta, Alitalia, and United are flying some pretty tired older products to.
A leisure route to Barcelona, another city with lackluster international service, another service could materialize on JetBlue metal. Berlin, which has no flights currently to JFK, could get JetBlue nonstop service. The same is true for Düsseldorf. Geneva or Zurich could follow. Amsterdam was once on JetBlue’s list and is likely still up there. A seasonal leisure route to Nice could work.
That is just Europe. During the European off-season, JetBlue could point its planes to Latin America, taking on these carriers plus Latin American ones.
Ultimately, JetBlue will be shaking up the transatlantic market. While no legacy carrier will willingly admit it, and quite interestingly, it will be providing some feed to help make American’s transatlantic flights work, the carrier will send waves through the market.
Airlines have several months to prepare for the arrival of JetBlue into the market. Still, after today’s announcement, it is clear that JetBlue means business and its competitors will need to up their game or else cut their fares if JetBlue really does take a decent-sized slice of passengers from its legacy competitors.
Are you looking forward to JetBlue’s entry into the transatlantic market? Let us know in the comments!