JetBlue has unveiled an all-new Mint experience, which will be introduced on its transatlantic flights between London and New York this summer. The reveal marks the culmination of a four-year development project the airline carried out together with Acumen Design Associates (Acumen).
JetBlue’s transatlantic Mint cabin layout consists of 24 customized VantageSOLO seats from Thompson Aero Seating in a 1-1 herringbone configuration with direct aisle access and sliding privacy doors. Two front row suites, known as “Mint Studio”, have been designed to offer the same experience as the popular “throne” seats available in existing Mint cabins. The standard Mint suites span 16.7 square feet versus Mint Studio’s 22.7 square feet of space, which JetBlue claims is the largest available as part of a premium experience on any US airline.
During the initial immersion process that kicks off every big design project, Acumen spent time in New York getting to know JetBlue’s products and services, as well as its broader brand identity. They witnessed people using JetBlue’s free in-flight Wi-Fi to continue their business as usual in the air. “A lot of the seats we create are very bed-focused because they’re on these long-haul routes and the primary thing people want to do is just sleep, but we realized this had to be workspace as well as a sleep space,” said Daniel Clucas, senior designer, Acumen.
This spawned Acumen’s motive to create a space that allowed for “seamless living.” Clucas explained, “The idea was for customers to transition from the ground onto the aeroplane and off without ever being interrupted, […] not having to disconnect and put things away because meals come out or having to dig around to find where a plug is.” To this end, they included as many flat surfaces and stowage areas as possible – each suite has a laptop drawer, compartment for personal items, shoe and under-ottoman storage, and a nightstand with a bottle holder. There’s even a small recess to allow passengers to store their smartphones and tablets upright.
Extra space is even more apparent with Mint Studio – these suites offer a secondary guest seat and tray table to allow for a companion at cruising altitude, an integrated personal closet with a vanity mirror, a larger 22-inch pivoting Thales AVANT in-flight entertainment display (compared to a 17-inch display in the other suites) and second side table for storing personal items.
But the sleep experience hasn’t been compromised as a result. Created by mattress company Tuft & Needle, each Mint seat is layered with its proprietary foam and a breathable cover to keep passengers cool and comfortable. The company also developed additional amenities including a convertible blanket with a built-in foot pocket, a memory foam-lined pillow with a pillowcase and a matching eye mask and earplugs. In the Mint Studio suites, the extra sofa seat can also drop when Thompson Aero seat transitions into bed-mode, extending the bed surface.
Like the rest of the suites, the mood lighting was designed to aid passengers in productivity or relaxation. Using the passenger control unit, they can switch between what Clucas describes as “dark moody blues” or “brighter, white lights,” adjusting the brightness as they wish. The effect of natural lighting in the cabin has also been maximized with the inclusion of gradient panels “that fade so it’s lighter on the window side and darker on the aisle side, which helps to draw the light in and makes the space feel bigger,” he added.
Small but thoughtful touches have been added with in-flight service in mind. As well as featuring a button close to the passenger that releases the meal table, there’s a secondary button on the aisle side closer to the crew, which can be used to release it without leaning over the passenger. “It’s there to help JetBlue’s crew to deliver their amazing service,” Clucas said.
“The JetBlue team isn’t afraid of pattern, which was a great pleasure,” said Acumen’s brand development manager, Catherine Barber. While the privacy doors and some of the panels feature a mint-leaf pattern, the cabin’s bold design is also reflected in the many contrasting textures, from denim-like carpet to suede surrounding the vegan leather seats. Barber explained, “It transformed that space from feeling like a transportation unit to something with some domestic and also hospitality references.”
To achieve the New York-inspired concrete-look lampshades above the side table in each suite, Acumen worked with a company called PolyStone Creations. Clucas explained that they’re used to creating smooth surfaces for console tables. “We asked them to do the opposite of that, something rough and industrial. We went through lots of iterations.”
Acumen was also keen to use cork in the design, as it’s naturally flame retardant, sustainable and good for acoustics. While it didn’t make it into the new Mint cabin, due to stringent certification standards, Barber hopes we might see it in the company’s next project…