The route marks the airline's third transatlantic service.
U.S. travelers have been flocking to Europe in droves this summer. And while the peak travel period is beginning to wind down (and along with it, the sweltering heat), JetBlue is making a final push to capture travelers headed across the Atlantic with its newly launched service from New York’s JFK to Amsterdam Schipol — and I was onboard the first flight.
I arrived at JetBlue’s Terminal 5 home and sauntered over to Gate 14 where I found a showcase of Dutch-themed snacks and showy decor in celebration of the inaugural flight. Fresh tulips, decadent (and JetBlue-branded) stroopwafels, and even a rotating faux windmill were all part of the pre-flight revelry. The occasion, which included remarks from CEO Robin Hayes and a ribbon-cutting ceremony, marked the newest flight for the New York City-based airline.
While the pre-flight festivities meant no lounge was necessary, JetBlue is actually one of the few airlines that doesn’t provide airport lounge access for business-class passengers. Cost is a major factor, with Hayes noting that he’s also aware of how busy many lounges have become.
“Customer satisfaction with lounges, in general, is actually quite low because they tend to be very crowded,” he told Travel + Leisure in a one-on-one gate-side interview. “If you’re going to make an investment in doing it, you want to do it well.”
Instead, JetBlue’s focus is on route expansion. Two years ago, the airline headed across the pond to London, marking its first-ever service across the pond. Now, after launching Paris earlier this summer, JetBlue is on a roll with Amsterdam as its latest international venture.
“It's a step along our journey of having a more comprehensive network to Europe to meet the needs of our customers,” Hayes told me.
Beyond meeting the demand of travelers, the JetBlue team asserts that it's able to bring down the cost of flights with each new route it launches, something the airline calls the “JetBlue effect.” It remains to be seen whether the airline’s entry to Amsterdam will drive all fares downward, but Hayes called out a specific partnership — one between Delta and KLM, controlling much of the market.
“People have had to pay high fares before today because there's a very large joint venture that flies pretty much every flight north of Philadelphia up to the Canadian border,” Hayes remarked during the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Between New York and Amsterdam, JetBlue advertises rates that start at $479 round-trip in “core” (economy class) and $1,899 in “Mint” (business class).
When it was time to board, I made my way onto the 114-seat Airbus A321LR, a single-aisle aircraft with JetBlue’s newest set of products. There are 24 lie-flat Mint seats and a relatively cozy (and roomy) 90 seats in economy. Of course, up in front is where you want to be, and sitting in the first row of JetBlue’s transatlantic-configured aircraft — seats 1A and 1F — is undoubtedly one of the best ways to get to Europe. It’s about as spacious as it gets for a short overnight flight. Therefore, it’s a good thing I was ticketed in seat 1A.
Dubbed the Mint Studio, the extra-expansive JetBlue suite not only comes with a couch-like area that can fit two guests but also has its own separate seatbelt and table for eating or working. However, be aware that there’s an extra $299 upcharge for these specific seats. I plopped down on my throne and settled in for the 7 hours and 36-minute inaugural to Amsterdam
Each of the 24 Mint seats is arranged in a 1-1 configuration, essentially private cocoons with their own doors. However, the two Studios at the very front are significantly more roomy as the suite makes use of the bulkhead space to provide passengers with a padded surface adjacent to the main seat. There are also two additional storage compartments, including a large vanity, and as mentioned, a second tray table with the ability to sit with a companion. For solo travelers like myself, all that space — not far off from some New York City apartments — meant more surface area to spread out, especially useful for sleeping.
Once onboard, Nicole, Marcus, and Mike, the three flight attendants working the Mint cabin, greeted me by name and offered a selection of pre-departure beverages, including champagne or an alcohol-free spritz. Also waiting at my seat was a variety of amenities including Tuft & Needle bedding; plush slippers; Master & Dynamic headphones; a sleep kit with eyeshades and ear plugs; and another eco-friendly kraft paper kit stocked with a face wipe, sleep-assist gummies, and more.
If that’s not enough, travelers in Mint Studio get even more goodies, Most importantly, I got a pair of soft black pajamas to change into for the redeye flight. To round things out, there were also JetBlue-branded playing cards, a lint brush, and a stain remover pen waiting in one of the storage compartments.
Perhaps the only thing more impressive than the curated amenities is JetBlue’s onboard catering. The Mint food and beverage program — in partnership with New York’s Delicious Hospitality Group which includes restaurants like Legacy Records and Pasquale Jones — is some of the best in the business featuring tapas-style dining and cocktails (and mocktails) freshly shaken in the galley.
On transatlantic Mint flights, meals are ordered via in-seat monitor with the ability to select three small plates out of four options. While waiting for my dinner to be prepared, I nibbled on a few Marcona almonds while sipping a refreshing Mint (Under One) Condition, a zero-proof version of JetBlue’s popular gin- or vodka-based cocktail with ginger, lime, cucumber, and mint.
For my main meal, I selected an escarole and parmesan salad; chilled tomato soup with cucumbers and croutons; and a pan-roasted chicken with romesco sauce and breadcrumbs — all served on a single tray along with a side of warm bread. To finish things off, I had a vanilla gelato with roasted peaches and a hazelnut shortbread crumble. I’ll be honest: While the entire offering was solid, it wasn’t the best meal that I had ever had in Mint. That’s less of a knock on JetBlue and more of a testament to just how high the airline has raised the bar on catering. In fact, I’d rather have this specific dinner over just about any other selection on a U.S. carrier.
The Wi-Fi, which JetBlue charmingly calls FlyFi, worked impressively well over the Atlantic, and best of all, it’s free for every passenger. After completing some work and having a short but restful three hours of sleep, breakfast was served. I ordered the blueberries with thyme syrup and a fluffy frittata with roasted cherry tomatoes along with my single favorite onboard item, an iced oat milk latte from Brooklyn Roasting Company.
Before long, we were getting ready to land at a rainy Amsterdam Schipol airport, and it was time to check in to my home for the next few nights, the elegant Conservatorium Hotel, one of Travel + Leisure readers’ favorite Amsterdam properties of 2023.
Next up for JetBlue? Service from Boston to Amsterdam launches on Sept. 20, 2023. As for other European destinations, Hayes hinted at some new markets for next summer.
“We should be making a decision on that in the next couple of months,” he said.
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