Blue business jet

The most lucrative airline route in America—New York to Los Angeles—is about to get a new business-class carrier: JetBlue Airways, better known for spacious coach seats and free blue potato chips.

The airline’s new premium cabin, dubbed Mint, makes its debut Sunday morning for a Los Angeles-bound flight on the first of 11 larger planes that will form the backbone of JetBlue’s bid for the business elite shuttling between coasts. The Mint flights will expand to San Francisco in October. JetBlue is hoping to spur new demand among lower-end business travelers who don’t want to spend the thousands of dollars first- and business-class seats command on the other domestic airlines flying nonstop between New York and California. If it works, the Mint cabin is likely to be added to JetBlue’s transcontinental flights from Boston in 2015.

The 16 lie-flat premium seats on each Airbus A321 cost from $599 to $999 for a one-way flight, and it’s likely that JetBlue will raise those prices over time as travelers become familiar with Mint. “It can bear a lot more,” Jamie Perry, JetBlue’s director of product development, says of Mint’s prices. “That doesn’t mean we can charge it.”

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