American budget airline JetBlue is now running long-haul flights direct from New York to London, with business class seating available at the snip of the price of competitor airlines.
Metro.co.uk tested JetBlue’s long-haul premium economy and business class offerings – Even More Leg Room and Mint – offering to see how the class categories weigh up. Here’s our verdict…
Snazzy blue lighting and clean white panelling gave the plane a spaceship-kind of vibe. And the more I settled in for my JetBlue flight, I realised this airline is definitely in touch with the future of plane travel.
The budget US airline, which isn’t too well known in the UK, flies to more than 100 destinations in the Americas and now it is running direct flights from Gatwick and Heathrow to New York.
The company’s new Airbus A321 long range aircraft offers 114 seats and 24 ‘suites’ and there are three seat categories, with these being Blue Basic (economy), More Leg Room (premium economy) and Mint (business).
Fares start from as little as £355 for the most basic flight package, with no carry-on or checked luggage, and run up to £2,600 for the airline’s equivalent of business class. In comparison, when plugging in the same dates with Delta, fares start from £395 and run up to almost £5,000 for business.
No matter what class you travel in with JetBlue, there are several things that set this airline apart from other companies and make it worthwhile making the jump, in my opinion.
Firstly, JetBlue offers free high-speed Wi-Fi for all passengers. I was even able to watch Netflix for most of the journey, all of my social media apps worked and I could log into one of my work portals which usually requires a very solid connection.
Complementing the free Wi-Fi, each seat features light up, easy-to-find plug sockets, along with USB and USB-C outlets, so you can charge all of your gadgets as you go.
Another perk of flying with JetBlue is the food and beverage service, which injects a bit of fun into the usual run of affairs.
On some airlines, especially since Covid-19, the spread of alcohol has been reduced to just beer and wine but with JetBlue, free beer and wine and spirits are available to all, including a number of cocktails to get you into that holiday spirit.
Meanwhile, you can actually construct your own meal on JetBlue instead of settling for the usual bland salad, chicken/beef/cheese pasta combo, dry cob and cheese, followed up by square of sponge cake.
In Blue Basic – the equivalent of economy – and the More Leg Room zones, you can build you own meal using the touch screen in front of you.
On the way to New York, there were three options for main; lemon coriander chicken, meatballs and coconut eggplant; and then you had the option of choosing from two sides; kale apple salad, snap peas and leek parmigiano.
Staff came around to check everyone had made their meal choices before service began and they were more than happy to explain how everything worked to those who were less tech-savvy.
In fact, the staff on JetBlue were a breath of fresh air, channelling that bubbly American attitude you see on TV shows, with no ask too much for them.
Service throughout the journey was swift and efficient and it proved to be some of the tastiest plane food I’d ever experienced in economy.
I found the same attention to detail over in the ‘Mint’ section. In the business class-style section, complete with layflat beds and retractable doors for privacy, there are menus handed out, with a curated selection of dishes served up by some of New York’s hottest eateries.
When I flew from New York to London in Mint so I could sleep for the journey home, the menu had been designed by Lower East Side pizzeria Pasquale Jones.
You could choose three small plates from five options, and I opted for the ‘express menu’ which the menu stated would be ‘served straight away, before the rest of the inflight service’ for those who wanted to snooze. What a great idea!
The speedily delivered express option consisted of a cucumber salad, a spring farro salad with peas, sugar snaps and parmigiano and kale and spinach lasagna for main. To finish there was a dollop of creamy vanilla gelato with roasted apricots topped with a pistachio oat crumble.
On the entertainment front, JetBlue also has a great selection of movies to choose from along with a number of live TV channels, including BBC, CNBC, Sky News and Sport24. The woman next to me in Even More Leg Room contentedly watched a horse race she had a bet on.
In Mint I skipped the TV to sleep, and thanks to the comfy bedding from Tuft & Needle, slept like a dream until almost hitting the tarmac back in London.
Last but not least, another perk of flying with JetBlue is that everyone on longhaul gets an amenity kit. In the economy and premium economy sections this consists of a reusable rubber pouch – my friends with children say these are the best to keep things in as there is no zipper that can trap fingers – containing lip salve, moisturiser, socks and an eye patch..
Over in Mint, the amenity kits have an even better assortment of goods, with some of the goodies when I flew including a ‘miracle mist’ hydrating spray, a sachet of electrolyte powder, some lip conditioner, a bag of honey and elderberry lozenges and delicious-smelling coconut oil wipes.
So, if you’re considering a trip stateside, I would definitely recommend investigating fares with JetBlue. This is a fun and young airline that’s mixing up the world of aviation.
To find out more about JetBlue’s offerings visit www.jetblue.com
Top tips to doing New York in style
Where to stay
Soak up magnificent views of the Hudson while keeping your fitness regime up by checking into the slick Equinox Hotel New York.
This upscale complex serves up everything from sophisticated suites to a state-of-the-art gym to a rooftop swimming pool. I checked into a premier king room with sweeping views over the Hudson River.
Some of the best features included a marble-clad bathroom with sweet-smelling Grown Alchemist products, an enormous bed, an easy-to-use iPad concierge system and electric black out blinds for the floor to ceiling windows.
For a spot of relaxation in the city after shopping until you drop, check into the hotel’s spa which offers a range of cutting-edge treatments. The cryogenic chamber certainly helps ward off a hangover, with your body submitted to temperatures below -50 degrees Celsius for three minutes while you listen to music of your choice.
On the dining front, the hotel’s Electric Lemon restaurant is a popular spot come day and night so it’s worth making a reservation prior to your stay, especially for dinner.
The Standard East Village
If you fancy a bar crawl before hitting the pillow, one of the best located hotels in Manhattan for a spot of revelry is The Standard East Village.
This hotel is located right next to Soho for the shops and the East Village for a run of the hipster bar scene.
Perks of the hotel include a secluded garden area and a retro-style restaurant serving up some of the best eggs and avocado on toast for breakfast.
Upgrade to a Junior Suite for top notch views of the city, a separate work space-cum-dressing area, and a tub in the bathroom.
Where to eat
If you fancy tucking into different kind of chef’s tasting menu, head to KYU on Lafayette Street, close to Soho. You certainly won’t leave this feast hungry with nine bountiful courses to keep your tastebuds entertained.
The dishes change regularly but some of the staples you must try include the moreish ‘kunchy’ kale, the melt-in-your-mouth beef short ribs, the creamy stone pot Thai fried rice and ‘mom’s coconut cake’ to finish.
If you can’t manage it all, be sure to ask for a doggie bag.
For sky high views of Manhattan, top notch cocktails and relaxed nibbles, head over to the eye-catching William Vale hotel. This art-infused spot has a great buzz about it and it’s the perfect place to gather family, friends or lovers.
Westlight, the rooftop restaurant on the 22nd floor, has indoor and outdoor seating, so it can host diners all year round.
Recommended dishes include the dry aged beef burger and crispy herb fries.
Get your knife and fork ready for a different kind of rooftop restaurant experience over at the McKitterick Hotel in Chelsea in the form of Gallow Green.
This events venue – which is where the show Sleep No More takes place – has a couple of dining options, but Gallow Green is where its at when it comes to atmosphere, service and food. During the summer this space serves as a jungle oasis while in winter it is transformed into a cosy lodge.
Some of the must-try drinks include the World’s Fair (a blend of mezcal, green tea, yuzu and cucumber) and the punchy Manderley (a heady mix of absinthe, lillet blanc and velvet falernum).
On the food front, the juicy house burger promises to impress, along with the Caesar salad and perfectly cooked flat iron steak.
What to see
Sleep No More
By far one of the most unique theatre options in New York is Sleep No More. While this immersive show has been running for many years, it still promises to enthral spectators even if you’ve seen it once – or ten! – times before.
The show is loosely based on Shakespeare’s Scottish tragedy Macbeth through a film noir lens. Once you enter the show it’s like you’ve entered a dreamscape, with a maze-like slew of rooms and spaces to explore as the performers unravel around you.
It’s really an experience that’s hard to explain until you’ve tried it but you’re guaranteed to leave a little dazed and confused.
If it’s a spot of late night dancing you’re after, Nowadays in Bushwick serves as a playground for adults with an expansive outdoor space decked out with food trucks and a fog-shrouded indoor space where you can dance the night away until 4am.
Aire Ancient Baths
After days of shopping, partying and gorging on all of Manhattan’s delights are trip to the Aire Ancient Baths is the just the medicine you need.
This place in Tribeca transports you to an underground world of tranquility, complete with soft lighting, calming music and delightful smells.
The sensory experience continues in the form of various bathing pools, which are heated at different temperatures. Heat yourself up in the super hot pool before daring yourself to plunge into the freezing tub. One of the most unique pools features an ultra high salt content so your whole body floats.
There is also a steam room in the centre of the space, which will help decongest your airways so you’re ready to hit Manhattan for round two.
Day passes do not include treatments, so you will need to book these separately.
If you’re looking for something a little wacky and wonderful, Aire’s signature luxury treatment involves a spa session for two in a barrel-shaped tub filled with red wine.
How to get around
Uber is by far one of the easiest modes of transport to navigate the city or if you’re feeling a little more adventurous, Revel electric scooters are available to pick up from the curb by downloading the app, as are electric Citi Bikes.
For airport transfers, the ultimate option is Blade but the next best option if you’re travelling with a group and want a swankier vehicle is Blacklane. This service allows you to schedule rides in advance and you can pick from a range of vehicles, including limousines.
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