JetBlue’s inaugural flight from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) took off last week, marking the low-cost airline’s first transatlantic flight route to continental Europe. The new route follows the successful launch of JetBlue’s first transatlantic flights between JFK and London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports in 2021 and is part of the airline’s growing effort to disrupt transatlantic air travel by offering lower airfares on narrow-body aircraft—at a time when international airfares are soaring.
“We’re here to shake up the market just as we did in London. We’re here to bring an outstanding product at low fares,” Robin Hayes, JetBlue’s CEO, said at the ribbon-cutting event that took place at JFK on June 29 before the inaugural flight boarded. “We compete against a very high-fare legacy joint venture with a lot of flights. So it’s not easy, but we’re going to do our part to . . . make it more competitive.”
I was among the first passengers who flew in Mint business class on JetBlue’s inaugural flight to Charles de Gaulle and in its “Even More Space” economy plus cabin on the return trip home. Overall, the experience was fun, seamless, and very comfortable. Here’s everything you need to know about JetBlue’s first flights to Paris.
As of June 29, JetBlue flight 1407 takes off daily from New York–JFK at 5:09 p.m. and lands the following morning at Paris-CDG at 6:55 a.m. for a flight time of 7 hours and 41 minutes. For those flying from CDG to JFK, the daily JetBlue flight 1408 departs at 8:55 a.m. and lands at JFK the same morning by 11:51 a.m. local time for a total of just under 8.5 hours in the air.
JetBlue also plans to launch nonstop flights between Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) and CDG in 2024, but has yet to announce specific dates or schedules for this route. (JetBlue flights to Amsterdam from both JFK and Boston are launching later in 2023, too.)
The flights are being operated on JetBlue’s Airbus A321LR (long range) planes that can fly on routes up to 4,600 miles. Though these planes look similar to the single-aisle A321 with Mint planes that JetBlue flies on its transcontinental routes, the A321LR planes that JetBlue flies on its transatlantic routes are configured differently to offer more business-class seats that are more spacious and private, too.
On these A321LR planes, there are 90 “core” or economy seats and 24 “Even More Space” or economy plus seats in a three by three configuration, plus 22 private Mint Suites and 2 Mint Studios in the first row of the plane—which come with slightly larger TVs plus a seat and table for a guest—in JetBlue’s version of business class. Unlike the transcontinental Mint class, which has some seats in a two by two pattern on each side of the aisle, the transatlantic Mint class is configured in 12 rows of single seats offering both window views and aisle access.
To celebrate the route launch, limited round-trip sale fares on the new JetBlue Paris flights from JFK were briefly available for as low as $499 round-trip in economy, with Mint fares starting at $2,499 round-trip. (Fares were even cheaper when the airline first opened up bookings this spring.) At press time, the lowest fares on JetBlue’s website for this route are $566 for round-trip economy “Blue Basic” fares (you’ll have to pay extra fees for advanced seat selection and change/cancellation) and $2,610 for Mint round-trip for travel in January 2024.
JetBlue’s original goal when it announced this new route was to introduce lower fares in the transatlantic market without sacrificing service, and it seems like the competition has already started matching its fares. For the same January dates, all three other major U.S. airlines—Delta, American, and United—were offering the same basic economy fare ($566 round trip) on their New York–Paris routes. According to Google Flights data, the least expensive flights for similar trips to Paris usually cost between $570–$1,600. The only airline that offered cheaper fares is the low-cost Norse Atlantic (the reincarnated Norwegian Air) for $430 round- trip, which doesn’t include meals or carry-on bags like the other carriers do.
What it’s like to fly “Mint” business class on Jetblue to Paris
- The flight: Jetblue, Flight 1407, JFK, New York (JFK) to Charles de Gaulle (CDG)
- The class of service: “Mint,” JetBlue’s version of business class
I arrived at JFK’s Terminal 5 two hours before the flight took off and breezed through the TSA PreCheck line with maybe one person in front of me—no late June 2023 travel messes here. When I arrived at Gate 15, the area was packed with other travel journalists, JetBlue employees, and broadcast news media to celebrate the official launch of the route with a ribbon cutting. Without the fanfare of the inaugural flight party, I would’ve been more bothered that JetBlue doesn’t have any airport lounges of its own. If I had flown business class to Paris on American Airlines out of Terminal 8 or Delta out of Terminal 4, I would have had access to those airlines’ proprietary lounges.
After boarding the flight in the first group, I took my seat in Mint—3A—located on the left side of the plane. As a narrow-body plane, the JetBlue A321LR has two rows of Mint seats arranged in a herringbone pattern angled diagonally to the single aisle (similar to Virgin Airlines’ business class, but with fewer aisles). With my head near the window and my feet closest to the aisle, I found these seats offered quite a bit of privacy thanks to the angle and the tall barriers between each seat: I could only see the feet of the person sitting across the aisle from me when I was seated (and I could also use the sliding door for extra privacy). Though this diagonal set up offers a lot of privacy, I had to crane my neck to look through the windows during takeoff and landing to see the views. (Thankfully, most of this flight to Paris is when it’s dark so there’s not much to look at for long anyway.)
Each of these 22 private lie-flat Mint Suites come with a buttery soft blue leather seat cushion by Tuft & Needle, a tilting 17-inch seat-back screen, and a wireless charging pad for your phone (which unfortunately didn’t work on my flight for unknown reasons). The overhead bins are the newer extra large design that allow for carry-ons to be stored on their sides instead of flat, so more bags can fit. For in-seat storage, there’s a slim tray that pops out from under the TV to hold laptops, books, or anything that’s a few inches tall. On the side near the armrest, there was space for water bottles and any taller objects. In the first row of these planes are two Mint Studios, which feature a larger 22-inch tilting seat-back screen plus an extra side table and a guest seat.
Each seat in Mint came with slippers and a small amenity kit, which included an eye mask, a toothbrush, a small tube of toothpaste, and earplugs. The headphones were noise-isolating Master & Dynamic over-ear models that delivered rich sound for watching movies, including new releases like John Wick 4 and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. There was also a large selection of movies in French as well as a special section of movies set in Paris like Ratatouille, Before Sunset, and Les Misérables.
One of my favorite features of the seat-back screen is that I could pair it via Bluetooth with my phone to use as a remote, which was useful because the screen was quite far from the seat when reclined. (This feature is also available in economy.) The entire plane was also outfitted with free Wi-Fi that worked well enough for me to scroll Instagram and TikTok without any issues.
Shortly after takeoff, the extra friendly flight crew came around to take drink orders. I got one of the specialty cocktails, a Venetian Spritz, an aromatic and slightly sweet blend of grapefruit juice, sparkling wine, and a house-made aperitivo. They also offered a black maple Old-Fashioned and a drink called Mint Condition, served with either gin or vodka, plus ginger, lime, cucumber, and mint. Other options included two zero-proof mocktails, plus a full offering of beer, wine, and liquor. The flight crew was extra generous with the drinks in Mint—the flight attendant seemed shocked I turned down a second Venetian Spritz, and when I asked for a rosé with dinner, she responded with a boisterous “Rosé all day!” to affirm my order.
As for food, JetBlue partnered with New York–based Delicious Hospitality Group to offer two meals in Mint that I ordered via the seat-back screen as soon as I sat down—three small plates plus dessert for dinner served around 7:30 p.m. and two small plates for breakfast about an hour before landing. (There’s an option for a to-go breakfast in a bag so you could sleep longer and eat after landing.) For dinner, I chose the chicken, pasta, and farro salad. (There was a chilled English pea soup option for a less carb-heavy meal, but I don’t like cold soups). The cavatelli pasta was cooked well and had a chunky tomato sauce. The farro salad came with roasted cherry tomatoes, radishes, pistachios, and slices of Parmesan cheese. The chicken was pretty standard airplane chicken (i.e., edible but not amazing) and came with an eggplant caponata served cold that I didn’t finish. For dessert, I ordered the vanilla gelato with a generous serving of blackberry preserves and almond granola for crunch. Breakfast offerings included a watermelon salad, coconut yogurt with a passion fruit puree, and an asparagus frittata with goat cheese, Parmesan, and fresh herbs.
The Mint cabin comes with two bathrooms that are large, but not extra spacious as I’ve seen in business-class cabins on carriers like Singapore Airlines, for example. I did appreciate the motion sensor on the flusher so I didn’t have to touch it.
When it was time to sleep, the seat turned into a lie-flat bed with one button. A Tuft & Needle blanket and pillow also came with the seat. Though the pillow felt like memory foam, it wasn’t as thick as what you might have at home. At 5’4”—with my head as close to the top of the seat as possible—I noticed I maybe had just three to four inches left in the footwell when I was fully stretched out. Though I was perfectly comfortable, taller passengers might have to curl up to fit inside these lie-flat seats. I also found the 22-inch width of the seat to be OK for my average-size frame, but I heard other passengers complain about not being comfortable. I slept for maybe two hours and then woke up when the flight crew started preparing breakfast. (I was in the third row so maybe wear better earplugs or sit farther back if you’d like to sleep longer.)
The flight took off on schedule and landed around 6:10 a.m.—about 30 minutes early—which gave me a full day to explore the French capital (and take a short nap before dinner).
What it’s like to fly “Even More Space” economy plus on JetBlue from Paris
- The flight: Jetblue, Flight 1408, Charles de Gaulle (CDG) to New York (JFK)
- The class: “Even More Space,” JetBlue’s version of economy plus
On the way home on July 5, I arrived at the CDG Terminal 2B at 6 a.m. for the 8:55 a.m. flight to give myself plenty of time to check a bag and get through Parisian security and customs, which didn’t take as long as I anticipated given reports of summer travel crowds and worker strikes across the pond. (There were short lines at all checkpoints, but just remember European airports are much stricter than U.S. airports about liquid limits and removing electronics from bags.)
Since I was in JetBlue’s “Even More Space” version of economy plus, I was able to board in group A (right after Mint). Not long after I took my seat in 15F—a window seat on the right side of the plane looking out over the wing—the pilot announced that boarding was complete and I realized I got an entire row of three seats to myself. (The JetBlue A321LR core cabin is configured with three seats on each side of the single aisle.) Because the flight was so empty, the flight attendants had the 11 people in rows 13–17 (which include the “Even More Space” seats and the exit rows) move to row 25 or higher for takeoff until we reached cruising altitude (about 30 minutes) to help balance out the plane since it was so light. Our takeoff was also delayed from 8:55 a.m. to 10:12 a.m. because of this since they had to rescan every bag on the flight to make sure the weight was enough to fly. (Thankfully, the pilot kept us up to date with frequent announcements about the situation.)
Each of the 24 “Even More Space” seats came with plenty of legroom (a 37-inch pitch to be specific) and a comfortable leather seat. Even though the regular “core” economy seats have five inches less legroom than the “Even More Space” seats, with a 32-inch pitch, they still offer more room between seats than the standard seat pitch (30–31 inches) most carriers offer in their transatlantic economy seats in wide-body jets. Seats across the core class are decently sized at 18 inches wide.
One of my favorite details was the number of pockets the seat back had for organizing belongings, including one wide enough to fit my 18-ounce Hydro Flask water bottle and a tiny one so I didn’t lose my lip balm and earbuds. Every seat in economy also came with a blanket and a small reusable silicone amenity kit packed with lotion, socks, and a face wipe. The seat-back screen measured 10.1 inches (slightly smaller than an iPad) and featured the same movies as in business class on the way out. Tennis fans were also delighted to be able to watch Wimbledon on one of JetBlue’s live TV channels for the entire flight.
The food in economy is by New York–based farm-to-table restaurant group Dig Inn. I was able to order complimentary breakfast (one main and two sides) and drinks—alcohol is included—on the screen as soon as I sat down. I ordered the zucchini and egg crepe, apple and grape salad, and coconut yogurt with grapefruit. Though the pancakes with roasted peaches came instead as the main, the flight attendant double-checked to see if my order was correct after serving but they were good so I didn’t ask to switch.
Around 11 a.m., the flight attendants announced they opened the pantry for people to help themselves to drinks and snacks as they’d like. I had some Cheez-Its but there were also Chewy Bars and Plantain Chips and a few other items (but not the famous blue potato chips!).
With around two hours left in the flight, the flight attendants came around with a snack service—pizza pockets—and more drinks. The pizza pocket was lukewarm, but I ate it anyway since it had been about five hours since breakfast.
There are two bathrooms in economy and the one on the left is significantly bigger than the one on the right. (Its door also wasn’t working properly—to lock it, the flight attendant had to push it closed from the outside: my hero!) After I came out, we bonded over the small snafu since she actually got stuck in it a few weeks back, which is surprising for a fairly new plane.
Though we were delayed about an hour and 20 minutes, we landed only about 20 minutes late at JFK around 12:10 p.m. from the originally scheduled 11:51 a.m. arrival.
The takeaway—is it worth it?
As Edith Piaf said, “Non, je ne regrette rien.” In the future, when flying for personal travel, it’s unlikely I’d be able to afford to fly Mint to Europe (though I can transfer my Chase Ultimate Rewards points to JetBlue at a 1:1 ratio). However, I would easily spend the money to fly in JetBlue’s “Even More Space” economy plus or even its “core” economy seats to Paris again—especially if the fares remain competitive—since I found the food just as good, the seats more comfortable, and the service even friendlier than the other major airlines.
Michelle Baran contributed reporting to this article.