Business class is a soft and cosy paradise. But beneath the plump pillows there is ruthless competition. Every year airlines fight to outdo each other with the latest configuration, amenity kits, aesthetic, food, privacy and ergonomics.
Big names that consistently take out business class awards are Emirates, Qatar Airways, Etihad, Delta, Singapore Airlines, Virgin Australia, Air France, Qantas and ANA. But one surprise airline could have the best business class offering for social distancing in 2020.
Business-class blogger Zach Griff, a professional connoisseur of the pointy end space, recently took to Instagram to share his experience of a business class product, which appears to be a dark horse in this year’s pantheon.
“Welcome to @jetblue Mint — one of the best and most socially-distant friendly products to fly!” Mr Griff captioned the post. “Capped at just 10 passengers, each flyer gets their own pod or suite. Plus, the top-notch food and beverage service is back.”
“I’m such a jetblue snob. Still haven’t tried the mint experience. I’m afraid once I try, I will never want to go back,” one commenter wrote beneath the post, suggesting the American low-cost airline (the seventh-largest in the US, by passengers carried) may be punching above its weight.
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“Here’s a tough one! Would you rather sit in a @jetblue Mint suite or a window seat with an empty aisle?” the unapologetic AV Geek Griff wrote underneath another post of the same suite. “Since JetBlue is blocking all Mint aisle seats through at least Oct. 15, it’s a question I faced on my recent flight. I went with the former, but all Mint seats are great for social distancing thanks to the capacity caps!”
Capacity caps are clearly key to the sense of security Jet Blue provides.
In a review of the experience for The Points Guy, Mr Griff wrote: “Seats are spread across five rows in an alternating 2-2 and 1-1 configuration. This means that four seats are actually ‘suites’ with two large tables at each side, two extra power outlets and a sliding door.”
2020 has seen a raft of new seat designs hit the media (if not the market), from plastic partitions to elaborate double deckers. For most though, passing the required safety tests to become a commercial reality would take at least three years (by which time the pandemic will hopefully be by-and-large behind us).
In the meantime, we’ll be left to ponder which seats and suites will provide us with the best opportunity for social distancing (unless you’re a returning Australian expat, in which case you will likely be forced to fly home in luxury anyway).
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Wondering what flying during the pandemic looks like? It’s mostly the same with some key differences. A mask is required for the duration of your trip, and the planes are cleaner than ever! Nonetheless, the @jetblue Mint experience is still awesome. Great seat, delectable food and top-notch service. Can’t wait to do it again!