West coasters just got a new way to get to paradise.
JetBlue just added a new flight to Caribbean paradise, and lucky for me I was on the first flight out.
The airline, which has been continuing to expand its routes outside the U.S., recently launched a route from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Nassau, Bahamas' Lynden Pindling International Airport (NAS), providing west coasters an easier, approximately 5-hour, path to the popular destination. The flight will operate once weekly.
With a 7 a.m. departure time, I woke up bright and early for the Saturday flight. Upon arrival to the gate, I was met with celebrations — a balloon arch for photo opportunities, refreshments, and a podium set up for remarks — to kick off the new route. Erik Hildebrandt, Director, Domestic Cities, JetBlue; Dr. Kenneth Romer, Deputy Director General of Tourism, Investments and Aviation of The Bahamas; Michael Christensen, Chief Operations and Maintenance Officer at LAX; and Nikia Deveaux-Christie, Director of Marketing for Nassau Paradise Island Promotion Board all spoke to celebrate the historic event.
In a one-on-one interview, Hildebrandt talked about the new partnership and route.
“It's currently the only nonstop from the west coast to The Bahamas, which is absolutely fantastic,” he told Travel + Leisure. “Not only are we offering this for those wanting to visit the amazing islands of the Bahamas, but you have the tourism sector from the amusement parks to the business to the great weather to everything that California has to offer out here, for those traveling the other way, so it's a win-win.”
When it was time to board, I headed to my seat in JetBlue's Mint — the airline's version of first class — on the Airbus A321 Classic. With the option to sit in a single or double seat, my seat was a single and was complete with a Tuft & Needle blanket and pillow, over-the-ear headphones, an amenity kit filled with essential toiletry items, and more.
A water bottle was also nicely put in a holder on our seat, and we soon got our menus for the in-flight service. JetBlue is partnered with Delicious Hospitality Group, which owns and operates a number of well-known NYC restaurants including Charlie Bird, Pasquale Jones, and Legacy Records. On this flight, we had a menu from Pasquale Jones and espresso options made with Brooklyn Roasting Company beans. I ordered an iced Americano with oat milk, and it came served in a real glass with sugars on the side.
I also got to order 3 out of the 5 small plates listed for the main event. My options included pineapple with lime and chile flakes, chia seed pudding made with preserved blackberry, smoked trout with a house-made bagel crostini and buttermilk dressing, bread pudding with currant, pear, and créme anglaise, or a frittata with cacio e pepe and a herb and parmigiano salad. I ordered the pineapple, bread pudding, and frittata. You could also get a side of chicken sausage on request. So I, well, requested it.
The pineapple was refreshing and had a nice seasoning with the flakes, the bread pudding was decadent without being overly rich, and the frittata was filling and flavorful. There was also a cocktail selection including items like a Mint Condition (Bombay Sapphire Gin or Tito’s Handmade Vodka, ginger, lime, cucumber and mint) and a Maple Old Fashioned (Bulleit bourbon, maple, bitters, orange).
The seats lie flat, and I was happy to note that my single cubby came with a closing side door, to seal me off from the rest of the world — or plane. I got cozy in my little cubicle and started watching a movie and dozed off for a minute before listening to some music.
Before I knew it, Hildebrandt was making an announcement about a Bingo game where prizes included two round-trip tickets on JetBlue or a stay at some of the best resorts in The Bahamas, including Atlantis Paradise Island and Baha Mar, two of the resorts I was headed to on this trip. As we started to see shallower waters, it was time to get ready for landing — just a mere 4 hours and 45 minutes from takeoff. The landing was smooth, and everyone was clapping as we completed the first trip from LA.
Landing at NAS, we were greeted with traditional Bahamian Junkanoo dancers, and the colors and sounds were the perfect pick-me-up after a few hours of flying. The celebration of course not only added to my excitement of landing in such a beautiful destination, but also showed a great sign of what's to come for JetBlue.
“We continue to evaluate our marketing conditions in Los Angeles… Obviously, this is a testament of the first of potentially several to come,” Hildebrandt continued. “And then of course, just as an organization in general, our expansion in Europe is pretty fantastic right now, as we just recently announced Edinburgh and Dublin and Amsterdam. It’s a great time of expansion. We also just started Grenada from Boston, and are also connecting the dots from Florida to the Dominican Republic, so we're moving and shaking.”
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