The Best Way to Fly Domestically? JetBlue Mint.

Low and behold the coveted throne seat.

Not only was I able to cross off tons of destinations on my bucket list this summer, but I also flew on business class for the first time in my life. It’s safe to say that it was a transformative experience. I flew on JetBlue Mint, arguably known as the “best business class in America,” by tons of airline critics and fanatics across the country. While I’ve never flown on anything but economy, and Delta’s Comfort+ if I was ever lucky to be upgraded, I instantly became certain that JetBlue Mint is the sweetest of deals out there. I was so hooked that I ended up flying Mint six times this summer! In this blog post, I’ll walk you through the Mint experience from start to finish.

JetBlue Mint route map. The Caribbean/Latin America routes are seasonal.

Before we jump right in, I wanted to give some context to the story behind Mint. Prior to 2014, JetBlue only offered its standard economy offerings, which speaks true to its humble roots of being a low-cost, high-amenities carrier. Although the airline had only been around for 15 years at this point, JetBlue shook up the industry by offering free, unlimited snacks and drinks, wifi, DIRECTV, and great legroom. By setting the bar so high, other carriers started to follow by offering some of the same amenities that JetBlue has always had. Then, CEO Dave Barger announced that he wanted to shake up the industry even more, by offering a premium flight experience on JetBlue’s longer flights, but at a fraction of the cost. For example, other major legacy carriers were charging thousands of dollars for its business class fares, but JetBlue was able to offer Mint for just $599 each way. Since then, Mint has been an extremely popular way to fly, especially from coast-to-coast.

Again, Mint is only offered on select routes, on its newer A321 aircraft. As an intern, it was difficult at first to land a coveted Mint seat. But after weeks of trying, I finally scored my first Mint seat, from New York (JFK) to San Diego (SAN). I was traveling with a couple of other intern friends, who all also landed Mint!

At the airport

Captured from my very first time flying Mint.

On the ground, having a Mint boarding pass allows you to have access to a couple of great perks. There is a separate, dedicated Mint counter, with a crewmember there to assist you with any of your needs. Additionally, this ticket automatically allows you to move through JetBlue’s “Even More Speed” line. This is a great way to start your trip, as you’ll be able to move quickly through security in busy airports such as JFK. And once the gate attendant calls for boarding, Mint and Mosaic customers always board first. There are only 16 Mint seats, so it’s pretty cool to board the plane when no one else is on it.

On the plane

The Mint cabin is at the front of the plane, where a friendly crewmember greets you and shows you to your seat. There are five rows of Mint seats total; in a 2-1-2-1-2 configuration. This means that if you’re in rows 2 or 4, you’ll have your own “throne” seat where there’s even your own door for more privacy. Out of all six times I flew on Mint, I only got the throne seat once. It doesn’t cost any more to select these seats, so if you have the chance to fly Mint, I would highly recommend picking the throne.

On each seat, there’s a plush comforter, pillow, and a welcome kit full of thoughtful goodies. My favorites include the JetBlue socks and the lip balm. The socks are so soft, and I wear them around my house all the time. The lip balm is also high-quality and is something that I carry around with me in my backpack.

As soon as you’re seated, the crewmember greets you and asks whether or not this is your first Mint experience. If this is your first time, he or she will demonstrate how to use the remote controls for the lie-flat seat, which extends to 6’8″. This was definitely one of my favorite parts of Mint, as I loved having the freedom to lay completely flat and sleep comfortably throughout the whole ride. Afterwards, the crewmember offers you a refreshing Mint cocktail, which you can get with or without vodka. All of these personal touches make for a great first impression onboard.

Another fantastic perk of JetBlue Mint is the in-flight entertainment. The screen is touch-screen and significantly larger than the screen in coach. It was the perfect size to catch up on JetBlue’s great offerings of movies and TV shows, as well as switching to the route map every so often to see how much longer in the flight was left. But let’s be honest—I never wanted the Mint experience to end.

Once in the air, the crewmember presents you with a menu, which has different offerings depending on what type of meal service is offered at that time. There are three menus: breakfast, lunch/dinner, and shut-eye (for overnight flights). I’ve had all three options, and you can’t go wrong with any of them. The lunch/dinner option was definitely more filling, in my opinion. You also have the option to choose from lots of beverages. In fact, I was able to fly my Mom on Mint four times this summer, and she raved about all of the coffee offerings, but especially the cappuccino and espresso. I, too, enjoyed their coffee, but also delved into the wide assortment of wines they had. They were all fantastic.

Each meal, however, starts with an appetizer, which could range from a croissant to a bowl of fruit. You are allowed to pick three of the entrees off the menu. Each entree is small, but just the right-size to have a few different options. And in reality, I’m sure you could pick a couple more than just three if you were really hungry. The end of the meal comes with a dessert, which ranges from a Milk Bar cookie or ice cream from a local creamery in the area you’re flying out of.

I cannot skim over how amazing the food was. I mean, really. If plane food could be this awesome, always, I would never complain again about the dry, tasteless offerings other airlines usually have. The Mint menus change every month and are curated by local chefs, so you’re really getting the real deal. The rest of the summer, some of my intern friends and I always joked around about how we could use our standby benefits to fly Mint and back somewhere, just to have a free place to sleep and eat. In reality, one of my friends and I did exactly that at the end of the summer. We flew to Seattle after work and hopped on the flight right back to New York, just because we could.

…and here’s me and my friend Reed flying Seattle and back. Just to get Mint.

Throughout the flight, the crewmembers are so friendly and helpful. I made some great personal connections with a few of them this summer. They are truly there to provide you the most elevated and luxurious service. And with so much going on, the flight feels much shorter than you want it to. You’ll wake up from your nap under your snuggly comforter never wanting to leave, thinking that maybe Mint IS the destination, after all.

Of course, I would never have been able to afford all of these flights without working for the airline and getting to experience Mint for free. However, if you’re in the mood to treat yourself and you have the option to fly Mint on your next vacation, there really is no better way to fly domestically.

Day Trip to Boston

On a whim I decided to chop off six inches of my hair. This is usually a sign that I am ready for a change of pace. More than halfway of the semester was over, and I was already exhausted by the mundanities of my day-to-day routine.

My fool-proof solution? Get away from home, wherever that may be, and spend a day away from all of your responsibilities and social life. Be okay with being by yourself. Spend time in a place where no one may know you. Remember how it feels to be alone. It’s like that old saying—if you only had one day to live, what would you do? Well, it doesn’t have to be as morbid as that, necessarily. But in my 21 years of living on Earth, I’ve quickly learned that no matter how stressed you are, or how stuck you feel in the everyday, every single moment ahead of us is fleeting. So if you can, take some courage to escape for a little bit, ground yourself, and come back feeling charged to accomplish your goals. A day trip is not enough time to get behind on your commitments, and it is totally worth it for your mental health and sanity.

Flight itinerary for almost 12 hours in Boston!

I flew from my hometown airport (RDU) to a city over 700 miles away: Boston, Massachusetts. JetBlue had a crazy flash fare sale that had $31 fares during the week of Halloween, so I jumped on this opportunity. My options out of Raleigh were Fort Lauderdale, New York, and Boston. The last time I was in Boston was in August with a couple coworkers from my internship this summer, when we decided to fly to Boston after work just to grab some dinner and then leave. It’s such a gorgeous city, and I wish that I had more time to spend there. So, I picked Boston. By using only 2,600 of my TrueBlue points, I really only paid $11.20 for the roundtrip flight, which was simply just the domestic flight tax.

And so on a Wednesday morning, I arrived at the airport with just a purse. Having no luggage felt extremely freeing, knowing I would just return at night. The flight was just two hours long, and suddenly, I was in a new city.

Boston is a FANTASTIC place to visit if you are on a time crunch. Whether you’re wanting to spend a quick day trip there or simply just have a few hours in a layover, I would highly recommend stopping into the city. Unlike the proximity of airports in New York City for example, downtown Boston is only a 10-15 minute drive or 20-25 subway/bus ride from the airport, and the entire city is extremely walkable and easy to navigate via the public transportation system.

I took the T Silver Line bus from the airport and transferred to the Red Line at South Station Train Terminal, where I got off just two stops later at Park Street. I wanted to start my day in the Beacon Hill area, near the beautiful Boston Common park. I walked along the Freedom Trail, taking in all of the natural beauty around me. If you’ve never been to Boston before, it’s a quiet city that has beautiful historic architecture mixed with lots of green spaces. Fall was in full swing at this time of year, so I really got to appreciate the delightful weather, which was at a comfortable 60 degrees and sunny.

After walking around for a couple of miles, I wanted to stop by my favorite foodie spot, Tatte Bakery, which is where we ate for dinner last time I was in town. It’s extremely popular, and they have delicious sandwiches, baked goods, coffee, and more. I got the prosciutto and fig jam panini last time I was here—and two months later, I was STILL craving this sandwich. I ordered one with an iced latte, and spent about an hour eating and checking up on emails on my iPad.

Newbury Street

Afterwards, I spent a couple of hours walking along Newbury Street, which is most known for its many shops and restaurants. I stopped into some of my favorite stores, such as Zara and Reformation. Nearby was a really cool mall called the Prudential Center, and I stopped by in Aritzia and Lululemon there. To my surprise, I didn’t end up buying anything at all, which was great for my wallet! I still had so much fun window shopping and walking around.

It was already almost 4PM by this point, and I wanted to keep moving along. I hopped on the Orange Line to the Samuel Adams Brewery, which took about 20 minutes. Once I was there, I had to wait about 30 minutes for the next tour, which gave me time to charge my phone and rest my achy feet for a bit. I was also surprised to learn that the brewery tour was totally free, which was completely unexpected! I had only done one brewery tour in the past when I went to the Heineken Experience tour in Amsterdam, and that was a hefty 21 euros per person.

The tour guide took us through the brewery and explained the history of this beer and the exact ingredients that go into it. I’ve always loved Sam Adams beer, and I didn’t realize that it was one of the sub-brands under the Boston Beer Company, which also owns Angry Orchard and Truly. The entire audience sat down in a room where we all tried three or four different styles of Sam Adams brew, my favorite being the Oktoberfest. The portions were extremely generous, and pitchers were being passed around all of the tables. It was a great experience, especially as it was a free activity!

I was set to meet a friend for dinner around 6PM, and because it was dark and started to drizzle by this point, I decided to take a shared Lyft back to Boston. I met my friend Kevin at MIT, as he is a graduate student there. He was also an intern with me at JetBlue this summer, so I was glad to catch up with him! He showed me around MIT, which was a totally interesting and quirky place—almost all of the classes and dorm rooms were in one massive building. It felt like a confusing maze of indoor hallways. But it was so fun to tour a different school, and I could tell that the general vibe of the school was hardworking and innovative. There were endless engineering and design spaces for students to collaborate and build—it was cool to see it all in action. My favorite part about seeing MIT was one of their study spaces, which had boxes on boxes of bananas for students to take at any time. I took a baby banana as a fun souvenir.

After walking around the school, we got dinner at a Korean restaurant called Kaju. We ordered a feast—dukbokki, kalbi, and two sundubujigaes. All of these dishes are some of my favorite classic Korean dishes.

An excellent dinner at Kaju!

Soon enough, it was time to return back to the airport for my 9:30PM flight. I took one easy bus back to the airport. I was wiped by this point and fell asleep on the entire plane ride home. I had a wonderful day trip to Boston and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. Besides paying for transportation and lunch and dinner, I spent almost nothing at all on this getaway.

Next time there’s another flash sale, I will definitely be booking another adventure like this.

Five Best Secrets for Finding Cheap Flights

Ever since I studied abroad in Paris during the summer of 2017, I had this ever-growing desire to keep traveling and see the world. Because I grew up in the same town where I now attend college, I gained a newfound appreciation for traveling, especially to big cities that are bustling with sightseeing opportunities.

So in 2018, I wanted to make traveling a priority. Given my busy schedule as a college student, I would say that I was pretty successful. In the span of one year, I visited eight major metropolitan cities: Miami, Las Vegas, NYC, DC, Philadelphia, Seattle, Vancouver, and even Seoul.

As a college student however, I have many limitations, especially when it comes to budgeting. Flights are a huge cost when it comes to traveling. There are some obvious tips that most of us know, such as purchasing flights earlier rather than later and flying on discount airlines such as Frontier or Spirit Airlines. But in this blog post, I will bring you my five best secrets for scoring your next flight deal.

Use Google Flights as your flight search engine.

In 2018, Google improved the design and functions of Google Flights. I now use it as my sole search engine for flights because of its simple and customizable interface. I do not use other websites such as StudentUniverse or Expedia anymore, because I have consistently found better deals from Google Flights.

Do you know when you want to travel but are unsure of where your next destination should be? By simply inputting the dates you would like to travel, Google Flights can show you a list and map of different destinations and their respective prices.

This is a game-changer as you can explore various options for both domestic and international travel. Especially as a college student, you may be limited to just weekend trips or over holidays and long breaks. By knowing which dates you are free, you may find yourself traveling to a place you never considered before.

Most people know that return flights on Sundays are expensive, and flying on weekdays is significantly cheaper. Therefore, if you have a little bit more flexibility on your dates of travel, Google Flights can show you a price grid showing how much you could save if you simply adjusted the days you travel.

You can also check out the price of flights over the next few months by using their price graph. Depending on where you visit, flights in the summer and winter will typically be more expensive.

.

Caution! Google Flights does not show flights from Southwest Airlines. Don’t forget to double check Southwest’s website when conducting your search, as they can have some pretty awesome deals too.

Consider flying out of a different airport (somewhat) near you.

My local airport, Raleigh-Durham International, is the second-largest airport in North Carolina. While I have found many cheap deals out of RDU, it is still pretty expensive to fly out to certain cities in the United States, such as to the West Coast. Additionally, you will almost always have a connecting flight if you are flying internationally at RDU, which can make flights more expensive.

A huge tip that I have learned for saving money is to fly out of different airports that are bigger and tend to have more flights available. For me, Washington D.C. is a good option to look at, as there are three major airports that are a four-hour drive. Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, the largest airport in the United States, is about a six-hour drive. I have even considered flying out of any of the airports around New York City, which is an eight-hour drive. The sheer volume of flights at these larger airports makes driving instead of taking a connecting flight worthwhile.

For my upcoming spring break trip next week, my friends and I are flying out of Atlanta to catch a direct flight to San Juan, Puerto Rico for just under $300. Meanwhile, flying out of our local airport cost upwards to $800.

Again, for international flights, this is an excellent way to save money. There are many direct flights out of New York to destinations in Europe or Asia for under $400.

Find out which flights and airlines are most popular at your local airport.

If you don’t have a car and driving to a different airport isn’t a viable option for you, getting to know what your local airport has to offer can help you find cheap flights.

A quick Wikipedia search can tell you important statistics about your airport. At RDU, the top destinations are Atlanta, Charlotte, New York, Boston, Chicago, Baltimore, Dallas, and Orlando. Typically, flying to these cities will be cheaper, because there is a larger number of flights that service to these areas. On your search for your next trip, consider flying to any of these cities.

Furthermore, if certain airlines have larger shares at your airport, they will offer more flights that will also be cheaper. At RDU, Delta, American, and Southwest are head-to-head on their percent of market shares. Understanding this will help you narrow your search on which airlines to fly when you’re going to a specific destination.

Sign up for rewards programs or credit cards with travel benefits.

Check out the rewards programs for airlines that you fly most often. Signing up for these is essential, as the miles you fly can translate into steep flight discounts or even free flights. The more you fly, the more benefits you can redeem in the future. Airlines will also have credit cards that will offer amazing travel benefits such as free checked bags and priority boarding.

Credit card companies such as Chase or Discover will also have their own type of travel cards that translates your everyday spendings into rewards for flights on any airline.

By signing up for any of these programs, you will also receive exclusive emails for flights, so it is worth subscribing.

Sign up for Scott’s Cheap Flights.

Scott’s Cheap Flights is a free newsletter that emails you some of the best flight deals to international locations as they pop up. There is a premium version of $39 per year, where they email you ALL of the deals that they find. However, as a free user of the service, I have gotten about 2-3 emails per week, which I have been satisfied with thus far.

Each email will detail the location they found, the dates to fly, and which airlines these deals are on.

If you’re feeling spontaneous and want to travel somewhere new, Scott’s Cheap Flights can show you some really great deals across the world.

Let me know if you use any of these tips to find yourself a great deal!