JetBlue’s new routes to Amsterdam are hard to beat, whether you’re flying in Core or springing for a sweet suite in Mint.
This fall, JetBlue continued expanding its presence in Europe by launching service to Amsterdam from New York JFK and Boston Logan. The Queens, New York-based carrier made its first foray into the transatlantic market with flights to London two years ago, followed by Paris this summer.
Frequent flyers applauded the most recent news, as JetBlue has brought some much-needed competition on high-fare routes long dominated by SkyTeam alliance members KLM, Air France, and Delta—as well as a chance to enjoy the airline’s much-lauded premium Mint cabin at a fraction of the cost of comparable business class seats on legacy carriers.
However, soon after the Amsterdam routes were launched, the carrier received disappointing news: Airport Coordination Netherlands (ACNL), which controls Schiphol’s slots, confirmed in early November that JetBlue was among about two dozen airlines that would be denied takeoff and landing rights for summer 2024 in an ongoing effort to reduce noise and emissions at the European hub. But following backlash from the U.S. government, airlines, and aviation organizations, the Dutch government on November 14 reversed course, saying it was abandoning its plan to cap the number of flights at Schiphol next summer, according to Reuters and other media outlets.
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Confusing as all this may sound, what’s most important for air travelers is that—for now, at least—it’s business as usual at Schiphol for JetBlue. As a result, U.S.-based passengers who want to visit Amsterdam (or those like me who live in the Netherlands and are grateful for another option to fly back to the States) can take advantage of the airline’s affordable prices and top-notch experience. In addition, there’s another bonus for booking these new routes: they feature JetBlue’s Airbus A321LR aircraft with revamped Mint and Core cabins.
I recently traveled on these new routes connecting Amsterdam and the U.S. east coast. Here’s what passengers can expect—and why they should consider booking JetBlue for their next trip to the Netherlands.
Amsterdam to Boston – Mint
JetBlue launched its premium Mint product, its version of first class, a full decade ago, but this was my first experience flying it (yes, I was a tad late to the party). I was thrilled to check it out, but unfortunately, the upscale experience doesn’t exactly start at the airport, since JetBlue doesn’t have any dedicated lounges (yet, at least). However, Mint fares do come with priority security line access—though when I entered the line, the Schiphol employee had to look this up, since there wasn’t anything indicating that access on my ticket. After a quick confirmation, he waved me through, and security at Schiphol took a speedy five minutes (passport control was, predictably, longer, so plan accordingly).
In the absence of a dedicated JetBlue lounge, you may be able to secure access through a credit card. For me, that was a serviceable but nothing special temporary lounge at Schiphol via my Priority Pass card. The real magic, however, happens on the aircraft itself. JetBlue uses Airbus A321LR planes for its transatlantic routes, sporting a snazzy new livery as of this summer. Once you step onboard, the pizzazz continues with a luxe vibe in the cabins, thanks to an intimate but airy atmosphere and blue mood lighting.
Of course, the Mint Suites are the real star of the show. They feature sliding doors and fully lie-flat seats with proprietary adaptive foam cushions from Tuft & Needle, plus a memory foam pillow and a customizable blanket, both also from T&N. There’s ample storage, from a small cubby to stash your shoes, to handy compartments for smaller items you want close by, to a drawer underneath the 17-inch media screen. A snazzy little lamp adds an extra upscale touch, and Mint branding shows up in clever ways throughout the space, from leaf-shaped tray tables to wines of the “MoMint” listed on the menu. Seats also come with an amenity kit, which was nothing special but always appreciated.
Because the Airbus A321 is a narrow-body aircraft, all 24 seats in the Mint cabin have direct aisle access thanks to the 1-1 herringbone configuration—a boon for travelers like me who both love to gaze out the window and get up often to stretch on long-haul flights. Seats 1A and 1F, which the airline calls Mint Studios, come with even more space, thanks to an extra seat and table where a travel companion can join you for a spell (it’s not a separately ticketed seat, however). Other highlights of these mini “apart-Mints,” as the airline sometimes refers to them, are 22-inch TV screens (which JetBlue claims are the largest on a U.S. airline), a mirrored vanity, and even more storage. Mint Studio seats cost an additional $299 on top of the ticket price, which the passenger seated in 1F, directly in front of me, said he was happy to spring for, considering that the equivalent seat in Delta would have set him back a whopping $12,000, he said.
Mint passengers board first (along with members of the airline’s loyalty program, Mosaic), and as soon as we settled into our seats, flight attendants offered a choice of sparkling wine, a spritz, or a non-alcoholic beverage. It was a nice touch (though glassware would have been great instead of plastic cups), and as the boarding process continued, there was a noticeable buzz from passengers about the Mint cabin as they made their way through. I even heard several remark that next time they were springing for these seats.
JetBlue has recently elevated its dining program by collaborating with notable culinary personalities. This is especially evident in Mint, with a partnership with New York-based restaurant Pasquale Jones, known for its wood-fired cuisine and deep wine list. Passengers choose a selection of small plates via a user-friendly menu on screen; there’s also a paper menu (which I appreciated because I’m old-school that way). I started off with a Mint Condition cocktail, a kicky blend of vodka, ginger, lime, cucumber, and (of course) mint, freshly made on board, followed by lasagna and a farro salad for lunch, then a cheese plate. It felt like a restaurant experience at 30,000 feet. Later, I opted for celery root soup and a shrimp roll from the “Light Bites” section, and snacks were available throughout the flight. Service was efficient and friendly.
Between excellent meal service, knocking out some work on the speedy (and free) WiFi, and an extensive in-flight entertainment system (I loved seeing a curation of holiday films), the 7.5-hour flight passed quickly. I didn’t even have a chance to take a nap in the lie-flat seats, but I did appreciate the luxury of stretching out, enjoying the view, and not having to clamber over anyone to get up. All in all, it was one of the loveliest flights I’ve had in years.
New York JFK – Amsterdam in Core
The lounge situation is trickier for JetBlue passengers at JFK, since Amsterdam flights are in Terminal 5–which unfortunately is sadly lacking for lounges overall (in addition to no dedicated JetBlue lounge). There was no Priority Pass lounge in the terminal, and since I had more than two hours before boarding, this was rather annoying. But there was some good news on board with an uncrowded redeye flight. I even found myself with the holy grail for travelers on long haul flights: an entire row to myself on JetBlue’s Core cabin.
JetBlue calls its economy cabin Core, and transatlantic flights have 90 standard Core seats as well as 24 extra-legroom seats, which are called Even More Space. These seats are an excellent, affordable way to stretch out a bit more, especially on full flights, with seven extra inches of space (up to 38 inches total). Even More Space seats also come with early boarding and priority lane access–extras that were helpful for me, even though I had the perk of a whole row to myself in the Even More Space section (as did several other passengers on the flight).
INSIDER TIPYou won’t see Even More Space seats while you search for a flight; instead, they’re essentially available as an add-on. Select your preferred fair choice (Blue, Blue Basic or Blue Extra; all categories can be upgraded to Even More Space). After you enter your personal info, you’ll see the option to select your seat.
Just like in Mint, Core passengers are treated to an excellent dining experience. I ordered my meal via the touchscreen: coconut curry chicken with brown rice as my main, plus sides of Brussels sprouts and macaroni and cheese. Dessert was a delectable ice cream sandwich. And, just like it was in Mint, service was extremely efficient and friendly, which isn’t always the case on legacy carriers.
But whatever cabin or fare you’re considering for JetBlue routes to Amsterdam, you’re all but guaranteed to save big bucks somehow—whether that’s with a cheaper ticket on JetBlue or via more affordable fares from the legacy carriers who are now facing competition. Case in point: A search for round-trip flights from Boston to Amsterdam in early December turned up the same exact roundtrip fare: €496, about $537, on both JetBlue and Delta. But the biggest savings come in the front of the plane. Mint fares on early December flights to Boston came up at $2,536, while business class fares on Delta’s nonstop to Boston on the same dates were more than $4,700.
The bottom line: JetBlue’s new routes to Amsterdam are hard to beat, whether you’re flying in Core or springing for a sweet suite in Mint. Let’s hope these flights stick around, no matter what’s happening with the ongoing challenges at Schiphol, and that the carrier continues to expand its transatlantic routes (I’m officially casting my vote to put Atlanta, the main U.S. hub I fly into, on the list too).