Say goodbye to change fees on most JetBlue fares. And, if you’re buying the company’s Blue Basic fares, also say goodbye to your carry-on bag. The carrier is adjusting its fare families and fees later this month and these are two of the major changes.
New Carry-on Guarantee
Carry-on bags will be guaranteed to fly in the cabin on JetBlue flights, so long as passengers aren’t traveling on the company’s Blue Basic fares. But the new policy will no longer allow passengers on Blue Basic fares the option to bring a carry-on bag into the cabin. Instead they will be limited to only a personal item that fits underneath the seat.
In a message to crewmembers this afternoon the company describes the policy as “a logical way to differentiate Blue Basic on price and ensure we have the space we need for our new carry-on bag guarantee.” Blue Basic customers who upgrade to Even More Space seating will be permitted to bring a bag on board, one of the ways the company is bringing “flexibility for a fee” to the market.
For passengers flying on Blue, Blue Extra, or Mint tickets the new carry-on policy guarantees space in the overhead bins for the bags. If the bins are filled and bags must be gate-checked the carrier will provide a $25 voucher to the passenger as compensation.
The company also suggests this shift will give it the opportunity to “strategically focus on lowering the price of Blue Basic.” Presumably this will occur only in markets where ULCC competition is also competing on price. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic JetBlue faced direct ULCC competition on nearly half of its routes, including nearly 80% at its Florida Focus Cities of Orlando and Fort Lauderdale.
The new policy takes effect for travel beginning 20 July 2021 and covers tickets sold starting on 25 February 2021.
No more change fees
JetBlue is also eliminating change fees on all fares other than Blue Basic starting on 1 April 2021. This brings the carrier in line with most of its US competition, though not the U/LCCs that it is targeting with the carry-on baggage policy revamp.
The carrier is also adding the option for Blue Basic passengers to change their tickets for a fee. Most basic economy tickets do not allow that option at all.
It remains to be seen what the fee is relative to the underlying fare charged. Historically JetBlue used a sliding scale so that the fee ensured some value remained after the change. That will no longer be the case. Blue Basic fares will have a flat $100 change fee for itineraries within the US, Caribbean, Mexico and Central America. “Other Routes” such as the soon to launch London service will carry a $200 fee for basic economy changes.
A fare difference still applies even with the elimination of change fees.
Also of note is that the carrier will still charge non-Mosaic members $75 to change their flight on the day of travel or fly standby.
JetBlue is clear that it still wants to pick up more of the basic economy market, even if that means cutting fares a bit to match the competition. But those reduced prices will come with fewer benefits than before, even if that’s still more than what the ULCCs offer.
The carrier did not return a request for comment prior to publication.
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