By Henry Phillips
on 10.23.13

When it comes to flying, passengers seem to enjoy reflecting on the so-called “golden age of aviation” which, as far as we can tell, means any time before present day. On any cross-country flight you’ll hear fliers reminisce on days of lax security standards as they’re digitally cavity searched or on the lost glamour of air travel as they’re entombed between the impressive combined girth of 17A and 17C. And it’s true. Flying today sucks. Even first class today sucks. Where’s the $1,000 value in a couple extra inches of legroom and three ounces of booze? Jet Blue tends to agree. The New York-based carrier decided to put their money where their mouth is and introduced an impressive new trans-continental service featuring their totally revamped take on first class: Mint.

We were fatalistic as we stood on the roof of JetBlue’s Long Island City headquarters and admired a surprisingly good view of the Manhattan skyline. How good could domestic first class be? Would it be an extra hot towel? Through what we first imagined as a sort of witchcraft and have since realized is common sense, JetBlue has reimagined what most carriers offer in their luxurious international business-class cabins, incorporating it into a transcontinental airliner for a price that’s less than what you’ll pay for dated, gray first-class seats elsewhere.

Other airlines are asking well over $1,000 one way for first-class tickets, and a Gulfstream V is going to cost you at least $35 Million. Mint fares start at $599 one way.

Their first move was replacing the de rigueur recliners of other first-class cabins with 16 lie-flat seats that can make every amenity mentioned below completely irrelevant as you snooze your way across time zones. A lucky few will snag one of the four Mint tickets that offer completely isolated suites (2A,2F,4A,4F) — a first for US domestic travel. Whether you end up in glorious isolation or not, you’ll get the choice of going all Rip Van Winkle for five hours or staying awake and enjoying what the swanky section has to offer. That includes a 15-inch personal screen featuring 100 DirecTV channels and Sirius XM radio, not to mention JetBlue’s new Fly-Fi internet, which promises to provide the same amount of bandwidth to a single seat that competitors pipe to the entire plane. Feeling famished over Flagstaff? Food offerings are provided in the form of tapas from renowned New York outpost Saxon + Parole. Parched? Full bottle wine service should do the trick. Just remember that going all Bryan “Birdman” Willams with champagne showers doesn’t do much to win friends at 30,000 feet. And in case your skin’s feeling a little thirsty too, the fine folks at Birchbox are providing curated his and hers goodie-bags full of grooming, lifestyle and beauty products for you to use and keep.

Now for the Billy Mays Moment: what would you pay for all this? Other airlines are asking well over $1,000 one way for first-class tickets, and a Gulfstream V is going to cost you at least $35 Million. No doubt Mint sounds like it would be worth more than these other offerings; you’re probably guessing a cost somewhere between $1,100 and $50 Million, right? Well, Mint fares start at $599 one way when they roll out in June 2014. Get ready to get luxurious, baby.

And if you’re just trying to get from point A to B? You’re a pragmatist; you don’t need a Minty fresh flying experience; you’ve learned to live with crushed knees and the crushed dreams of aviation’s golden era. You just happen to be in luck. In addition to JetBlue’s premium offering, the economy cabin on their transcontinental service receives an equally huge upgrade. Customers just looking to get there can now look forward to improved seats, a 10.1-inch personal screen with 100 DirecTV channels, personal power outlets, the same superfast Fly-Fi internet and — wait for it — cupholders. Add to all of these in-seat benefits a self-serve kiosk full of snacks, sodas and water available throughout the flight, and you’re looking at an airline experience that might not be so bad after all.

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