Now landing in Ireland: JetBlue launches a new route from NYC to Dublin

JetBlue has launched a new route from New York City to Dublin, and we were lucky enough to try it out.

Now landing in Ireland: JetBlue launches a new route from NYC to Dublin
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I’m writing this dispatch from a plane returning to New York City after a whirlwind three days in Dublin. 

JetBlue’s inaugural flight 841 to Ireland took off from JFK International Airport on March 13 (841 refers to the year the Vikings took up residence in Dublin) to much festive fanfare. The ribbon cutting was presided over by JetBlue’s CEO, several executives and ground crew, reps from Tourism Ireland, a troupe of young Irish dancers, live musicians, and a former US Representative.

Mint condition

After all that hoopla it was time to board JetBlue’s A321Neo aircraft. JetBlue seated me in 2A of its business class cabin, Mint, which I’d never experienced before. It was plush and luxe (pluxe?) in a way that felt very unfussy and comfortable. So much space to spread out, places to put things (and perhaps lose things), plenty of power outlets, and the buttons and in-flight entertainment were all easy to use. And the free wif-fi for the whole flight? I'll take it.

A collage with a woman holding an Irish and a US flag; a tray of inflight food; a croissant and coffee; a dimly lit seating space on a plane
Highlights from the flight in JetBlue Mint © Brekke Fletcher / Lonely Planet

I won’t lie to you, folks, Mint might have ruined me for air travel (and I have been, until recently, a die-hard Delta lady). Though I am currently writing this in 12C on my return JetBlue flight – and my experience was as good as coach (with extra room) gets – I also lucked out (luck of the … I won’t say it) and got a row to myself. 

Back in Mint, felicitously-named flight attendant Angel brought me a glass of champagne, then after take-off, she presented me with a bespoke “Mint Condition” cocktail. I ordered the fast dinner service because even though this flight is a red-eye, it’s way too short and any sleep would be welcome. The food was delicious: salad, burrata, spinach lasagna. No notes.

Once I finished eating, I settled into the lie flat position and promptly conked out, and about 2 hours later, I was awakened (as I requested) with a cappuccino and a warm croissant. You know you love a flight when you’re kind of bummed when you land, and I was kind of bummed!

But this was only the first bit of the trip. Here’s all the other fun and fantastic things I did in and around Dublin. 

Heading to Dublin? Here's our guide to the city's top things to do

A dock surrounded by modern buildings
The Anantara The Marker Hotel Dublin's contemporary design is right at home in Docklands © Brekke Fletcher / Lonely Planet

Thursday: arrival at Anantara The Marker Hotel Dublin

JetBlue partnered with Anantara The Marker hotel in Docklands to host this first-time experience for press.

We checked in and had some time to kill, so we had a lovely breakfast at the hotel's main dining room. I needed my first shot of Irish (not that kind of shot) so I went with smoked salmon, poached eggs, and toast. And more coffee.

Later we were whisked to the hotel’s spa (including an indoor pool and jacuzzi, steam room and sauna) for massages to combat our jet lag. With the water, the heat, and the rubdown, I was feeling pretty fantastic after only three hours of sleep.

The room (I was in 320) was pretty palatial, not at all what I’m used to when I travel under my own steam: floor-to-ceiling windows, a beautiful king bed, a sofa, a seating area, a desk, and – thank the maker – a Nespresso machine. I hope it’s still operational after my incessant use.

I peeled off from the group for dinner with a few of my Dublin-based Lonely Planet colleagues. I was told we’d have some small plates, but we had many. Bar Pez is a few blocks off St Stephen’s Green, with a charming Spain-inspired chalkboard menu, including all kinds of Irish seafood (anchovy, crab, prawns, mackerel, monkfish, cuttlefish – we ate all of it) expertly prepared and paired with ricotta toast and charred leeks, charred broccoli and slices of fresh bread from Bread 41. We also enjoyed a few glasses (okay, bottles) from its small but impeccable selection of white wines.

Collage with afternoon tea on one side and whisky bottles on the other
Indulge in a tea and whiskey tasting at Anantara The Marker Hotel Dublin © Brekke Fletcher / Lonely Planet

Friday: Irish dining with chef Gareth Mullins

The group had a casual breakfast with our JetBlue and Anantara hosts (once again, delicious), and made their way to a boat to visit Howth (I had already been, and I can attest to its darlingness). Instead I stayed behind at the hotel, and invited my colleagues to work with me in the bright and vibrant lobby.

Later, I rejoined the crew at Forbes Street by Gareth Mullins (Anantara The Marker's restaurant) to take part in a demonstration from the head chef himself. Mullins gave us a crash course in some Irish seafood staples, including shucking fresh oysters from Galway (they taste of the sea) and smoked salmon.

We pivoted to a wee whiskey tasting, which included samples from three Irish distilleries: Pearse, Spot and Dunville. Chef Gareth thought we all needed to do a little bump of caviar, as well, so that happened.

Finally the tea service – on which they worked TWO YEARS – was as delectable as it was mind-blowing. Sebastian, the pastry chef, put in so much thought, detail and passion (this is stuff you cannot fake, y’all) to create something so special, that it is an experience you will always remember. This is the part where even trying to write about it is pointless. Trust me, it’s spectacular.

Want to see more of Ireland? Here are all the ways to get around

Horses on a race track being ridden by jockey in gloomy wet weather
Horse racing on the Curraugh in Kildare, Ireland © Brekke Fletcher / Lonely Planet

Saturday: day trip to Kildare

Today was a big one: a trip to County Kildare for a day of breathtaking beauty, a bit of rain, horses, shopping and surprises galore. It was about an hour in the van from the hotel to the Curragh, home to legendary Irish jockey Johnny Murtaugh and his team, JP Murtagh Racing. His wife and business partner, Orla, baked fresh scones for the table, along with coffee, tea, and some of the best sausages I’ve ever eaten. 

After breakfast, we got in 4WDs to see the thoroughbreds up close during their exercises. The rain-soaked everything did not deter Johnny or any of our lot; it’s a way of life in Ireland. The man knows all his horses, jockeys, hands, neighbors, and well, everyone who lives, hangs and works on the Curragh and its racecourse by name. This man is a legend for good reason. (Anantara The Marker will arrange this experience for any guest.)

Mother horse with baby nestled into the side of her
See Irish thoroughbred horses at the Irish National Stud & Gardens in Kildare © Brekke Fletcher / Lonely Planet

The next stop was Irish National Stud & Gardens to learn all about the history and practice of breeding Irish thoroughbreds.

We toured the property and the stables, as our guide, David, explained the intricacies of breeding and foaling – the fancy hay they eat, the constant care and attention they receive. We saw lots of mares and fillies enjoying the grounds and just being beautiful, including a one-day-old just tuckered out next to mamma.

The rest of the afternoon was unexpectedly charming: tea at Kildare Village, an upmarket outlet mall that also showcases Irish designers and makers, followed by a trip to the Museum of Style Icons: home of Princess Diana’s “revenge dress.” 

We capped off Saturday night at a nearby pub, The Ferryman, catching the end of the Six Nations Ireland and Scotland Six Nations rugby match – and Ireland triumphed! You can imagine the roar and the celebration that followed. Guinness flowed, songs were sung, and it was the perfect end to an excellent weekend of revels.

Brekke traveled to Dublin, Ireland on the invitation of JetBlue and Anantara. Lonely Planet does not accept freebies in exchange for positive coverage. 

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