Since launching its Mint service in 2014, featuring lie-flat seats, JetBlue has experienced plenty of success. This year, the carrier expanded Mint from its original markets in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco to Boston. And service to four other U.S. cities is slated to commence before the end of 2018. Senior editor Robert Silk spoke with JetBlue vice president of marketing Jamie Perry about the impact Mint has had on the transcontinental marketplace, and the future of the service. Q: Do you see demand for Mint on additional routes beyond the ones you've already announced?
A: To answer that, you have got to go back and see how Mint has evolved. We launched in 2014 from JFK to San Francisco and JFK to LAX. We knew then that those two routes had premium demand. We were pretty confident when we launched Mint originally that there was enough premium demand to absorb the product we were bringing in. Especially when we were offering a better product than anyone else at a lower price. What we have seen is it has exceeded our expectations. Nobody thought it would be as successful as it has been. About a year ago, that led us to consider if we wanted to expand Mint. We always knew if we did we would want to expand it in Boston, because it's our second-biggest market and because it is a large corporate market.
Q: In addition to the Boston Mint service that JetBlue is adding this year to L.A. and San Francisco, you've announced plans to bring Mint to San Diego, Seattle, Las Vegas and Fort Lauderdale before the end of 2018. What makes you think that will work?
A: This was not something we thought we would do. But results for Mint have been so strong and the demand for the Mint product has been so strong, so we thought we had to reassess. What we concluded was there was clearly a potential market out of Fort Lauderdale, and there is also scope to take Mint from our existing East Coast markets to additional West Coast cities.
Q: You're also offering Mint on weekly flights from New York and Boston to Barbados and Aruba. And you're expanding the service to St. Lucia and St. Maarten in the fall. These are leisure markets. How has that worked for you?
A: We have a certain number of aircraft that are in Mint configuration. So we take the existing craft during downtimes and put them on leisure markets. In some of these markets, like Barbados in particular, people are flying private down there, and that's who we are competing against.
Q: So I'll ask again: Do you foresee adding Mint in still other markets?
A: The experience with Mint so far has led me to not rule out anything. Having said that, we announced several new markets recently, and we have our hands full launching those markets and then operating them. But if they perform anything like the existing markets that we have, I can see more Mint flying coming in the future.
Q: Do you believe by expanding Mint that you are going to lead a trend in the industry related to true business-class service on a growing number of transcontinental routes?
A: I wouldn't want to speculate on what [competitors] are or are not doing. We focus on what we're doing and on creating the best customer experience that we can.