That a new Mint seat is planned for JetBlue‘s transatlantic offering is not much of a surprise. But the carrier appeared to confirm this week that the new seats will also be installed on the newest A321neo deliveries for the carrier, updating the hard product for the first time since 2014.
During prepared remarks in the company’s quarterly earnings call CEO Robin Hayes stated, “We’ll also fly the low density A321neo and A321LR, both of which include our incredibly exiting new Mint product, which will carry forward our success in disrupting and reimagining premium travel at significantly lower fares.”
From a fleet perspective the carrier slightly tweaked its aircraft delivery expectations at the end of Q3 ’20, reducing the LR fleet growth. It will take just three in 2021 and another three in 2022, leaving the fleet at just six frames rather than the dozen previously planned for the end of 2022.
Read More: Musing on Mint v2
Exactly what that seat is and how many will be on board remain closely guarded secrets. The company declined to offer any further comment on the plans, but there are a few hints that offer insight into what we can expect.
A larger Mint cabin on the A321LR
For starters, JetBlue is on record as saying the Mint business class cabin will be larger on the A321LR planes serving London. That premium product is expected to deliver the higher yields the route demands.
The Airbus Cabin Flex (ACF) fuselage layout removes the second door forward of the wing (it is virtually never used for boarding due to proximity to the engines) in favor of additional over-wing exits. This increases the total potential capacity to 240 passengers. More importantly for long-haul flying, however, is the way it allows for the divider between the business class and economy class cabins to slide forward or back within the fuselage rather than being tied to the location of those doors.
In JetBlue’s case PaxEx.Aero understands that the A321LR will expand to 22 seats in the Mint business class cabin, up from the 16 flying on the A321ceo Mint fleet today.
We also now understand that the 22 premium seats will be in addition to the 138 tipped in the company’s filings with UK slot regulators as part of its application to serve London airports. This brings that aircraft to a 160 seat configuration, a far more rational capacity plying the North Atlantic than the initially noted 138 seats.
And, while we still believe that the Vantage Solo seat is the leading candidate for that cabin a confirmation remains elusive. Further details on Thompson Aero‘s financial situation are also fleeting.
JetBlue has a strong relationship with Thompson Aero and appears satisfied with the Vantage seat in the current Mint cabins. Extending that relationship with the Vantage Solo seems a viable option to deliver the density and comfort JetBlue wants while also not walking away from a strong partner.
JetBlue was first to put the Vantage seat on a single-aisle plane and could continue its role as an innovator with Thompson by being first with Vantage Solo, too. The design appears to support a door at every seat with a small bit of work.
New seats on the A321neo Mint as well
Confirmation that the same new seats will fly on the new A321neo in low density/Mint configuration is welcome news, though specifics on that cabin are even less clear.
Read More: JetBlue’s first Mint A321neo breaks cover
Presumably those planes will keep the 16-seat Mint cabin rather than the larger footprint for transatlantic flights. The carrier declined to answer any questions about the upcoming Mint cabin configurations.
More Mint updates
All of the new seat news joins with the revamped in-flight dining and amenities on offer for Mint passengers, launched in late 2020. Those soft touch updates were presented as a stepping stone to the new offering, though not tied together for launch. Presumably they were planned for an aligned launch at some point, with the pandemic and shifting aircraft delivery timelines disrupting those plans.
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