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JetBlue's new lie-flat seats debut on L.A.-New York flights

Air Transportation IndustryJetBlue AirwaysPhil JacksonNew York KnicksLos Angeles International AirportBritish Airways PlcLos Angeles Lakers
JetBlue's new premium Mint class seats available on LA-NYC flights to start

Would former Lakers coach Phil Jackson fit in JetBlue's new Mint class seats?

That was one of the questions posed last week to JetBlue President Robin Hayes at the Grove. Hayes and his team spent Thursday and Friday in L.A. with an open-air set up of the actual seats, allowing customers and the media to sample the airline's service that rolled out Sunday.

After a bit of conferring, Hayes, a former British Airways executive, discovered that the new president of the New York Knicks is the exact size of the seat's lie-flat dimensions: 6 feet, 8 inches. So that would be a yes.

Mint is a first for the low-cost carrier, which has upped the ante by offering first-class style, customized seats (although JetBlue doesn't call them that). Right now, 16 seats on the airline's new A321s are available only on L.A.-New York City flights that fly from Los Angeles International (LAX). San Francisco-New York City routes are to be added in October.

Fares start at $599 each way, a price the airline says is far cheaper than what you'd pay for comparable seats on bigger airlines. You can use TrueBlue loyalty points to buy a premium class seat, but, right now, you can't buy a cheap coach seat and upgrade with points.

JetBlue says Mint has sold out for about the next three weeks and that half of the fliers who have booked are new to the airline.

Mint's seats come in two configurations: side-by-side or a single "suite," which has a little sliding "door" you can close for privacy. (Right now there's no extra charge for the suite, JetBlue says.) Seats are 22 inches wide, and you can adjust the firmness and even choose massage mode.

The 15-inch seatback screens are bigger than JetBlue's coach seats, and there are dual power outlets and USB ports at every Mint seat. Food service includes tapas, courtesy of New York's Saxon + Parole, and fresh ice cream is served too.

With the new A321s, coach (referred to as Core) gets some perks too, such as a refreshment area where passengers can serve themselves soft drinks and snacks. (Flight attendants still come around and serve you in your seat, if you prefer.)

What's with the name Mint? Jamie Perry, JetBlue's director of product development, painted the marketing picture. The airline didn't want to use the same boring F word (first class) because it's "divisive, it implies everyone else isn't first class." 

And precious metals, gold, silver, platinum, were passe. The airline chose Mint, Perry says, because of its dual meaning: to create something and something that creates a sense of freshness and crispness. The word also affords some marketing silliness -- "excite-Mint," "refresh-Mint" -- and allows the airline to add green to its blue-centric color palette.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Air Transportation IndustryJetBlue AirwaysPhil JacksonNew York KnicksLos Angeles International AirportBritish Airways PlcLos Angeles Lakers
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