JetBlue Introduces Basic Economy Fares

Filed Under: JetBlue

JetBlue has today announced that they’re revamping their fare structure, with the introduction of Blue Basic fares, along with newly rebranded Blue Extra fares.

JetBlue’s New Fare Structure

JetBlue is essentially “catching up” with the competition here in introducing more fare types.

As is the norm for airlines, JetBlue is claiming that this is due to customer feedback, saying that they’ve “heard [us] loud and clear.” That’s right, we want basic economy!

JetBlue emphasizes that no matter which fare you choose, you receive JetBlue’s spacious economy seats, free brand name snacks and drinks, free high speed wifi, DIRECTV, and movies at your seat.

Furthermore, all fares will continue to allow you to bring one personal item and one carry-on bag, space permitting, at no extra charge.

To, start, here’s a chart comparing JetBlue’s five fare types:

JetBlue Fares as of November 12 2019

Not all fares will be available on all flights, so fare types will vary by route, demand, when you book, etc.

Now let’s talk about what’s new.

New JetBlue Blue Basic Fares

JetBlue’s Blue Basic fares are basic economy, no matter how you slice it. Those booking Blue Basic fares:

  • Will earn just two TrueBlue points per dollar spent on JetBlue airfare directly through JetBlue (compared to the usual six points for all other fare types)
  • Won’t be able to change or cancel their tickets at all
  • Won’t be allowed to make a same day change or standby
  • Will board last
  • Will only be able to select seat assignments prior to check-in for a fee

Ouch!

New JetBlue Blue Extra Fares

On the other end of spectrum, JetBlue is rebranding their Blue Flex fares as Blue Extra fares:

  • Interestingly Blue Extra fares don’t include a free checked bag, even though Blue Plus fares do (Plus fares are lower on the fare hierarchy than Extra fares)
  • These fares allow free changes & cancelations
  • These fares allow free same day flight changes and standby
  • These fares include early boarding and priority security

What About JetBlue Mosaic Members?

If you’re a JetBlue Mosaic member, note that many of your benefits won’t apply on Blue Basic fares:

  • You also won’t be allowed to make changes or cancelations
  • You’ll also be subject to fees for advance seat assignments
  • You’ll also only earn points at reduced rates
  • You won’t be able to redeem TrueBlue points for any seat fees, including Even More Space seats

Why JetBlue’s New Fares Are Bad News

JetBlue is just following in the footsteps of Delta, American, United, etc., with these changes, and I suppose that’s fair enough.

But never buy into airline marketing when it comes to the introduction of basic economy. Airlines love to market these as new fare types for price sensitive travelers. However, more often than not, airlines aren’t actually introducing basic economy fares at a lower cost than the previous lowest fare.

Rather they’ll charge you extra to avoid those fares. That’s how they make money with these — they hope that you’re willing to pay a premium of $10 or $15 or $20 (or whatever) per segment to avoid these fares.

At the moment JetBlue’s website doesn’t seem to be allowing reservations (probably because these fares are being loaded), so I can’t tell for sure. But I’d be willing to bet JetBlue will be no different than other airlines in that regard.

Bottom Line

JetBlue is now introducing basic economy fares, which won’t allow changes or cancelations, won’t accrue points at the same rate as other fares, will only allow passengers to board last, and more.

They’re also rebranding their flexible fares. Even though these are the highest economy fares they have, oddly they don’t include free checked bags, while some cheaper fares do.

It’s a sad development, but I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise.

How do you feel about JetBlue’s new fare structure?

Comments
  1. Even worse, points can’t be redeemed for the new Basic fares. Since TrueBlue is a revenue based program for earning and redemption, this in effect is a devaluation because people will in essence have to upfare to a non-Basic fare in order to redeem points.

  2. I notice they continue to allow paid Even More Space upgrade on basic fare. That makes this bitter pill somehow easier to swallow. But yes, this is still very bad news.

  3. I can see where Basic fares might be a good alternative, especially for short notice, same-day round trips. I live near a JetBlue hub and can see flying same-day roundtrips to a number of cities with only a briefcase or small carryon bag. Usually I would be a Blue Plus, Extra or Mint customer with JetBlue.

  4. Any fare structure that requires a flow chart or a Venn diagram in order to figure out is going to go over really well with the average person.

  5. The silly part about this, is that ULCC’s such as Frontier and Sun Country are waiving change/cancellation fee’s for flights a certain amount of time out. Meaning that JetBlue Basic fare is actually LESS competitive than a similar fare from a ULCC, which likely is still cheaper than JetBlue Basic fares.

  6. The JetBlue Plus card becomes -slightly- more valuable, as it was confirmed in the email announcing these fares today that holders of the card will continue to get a free checked bag for them and 3 others in their party across all fare classes, including basic economy.

    I travel HLO for the most part, but it has come in handy when going on vacation with my girlfriend.

    Now if only they would add priority boarding for those who hold the card…

  7. If you fly them with any frequency, you really should have the credit card as the 5k points ($75) and 50% discount for BoB means it basically pays for itself. The free checked bags is not impacted by this move.
    So I think the impact is negligible on many of their customers (at least for now)

  8. Huge blow for Mosaics. Will absolutely change the calculus on obtaining that status in 2020.

    –Mosaic since 2016

  9. What reason is there to fly jetBlue in the back from the West Coast versus other airlines? They used to make up for their limited service by having better inflight service, but that advantage is gone now. Looks like they’re ceding the market to Alaska and the legacy carriers.

  10. @TProphet – You mean all the other carriers that already have basic economy fares, have less legroom, and half of which wont let you bring a carryon free of charge? Sure.

  11. “As is the norm for airlines, JetBlue is claiming that this is due to customer feedback, saying that they’ve “heard [us] loud and clear.” That’s right, we want basic economy!”

    I’m so sick and tired of corporations lying about customer feedback.

    Screw Marriott, screw United, screw American and now screw JetBlue — you corporations better stop lying to your loyal customers or it will come back to haunt you. Show us the glowing correspondence from your customers who want basic economy and all its wacky restrictions or please just stop making this stuff up.

  12. Well this really sucks. I have paid extra for B6 in the past because I was impressed that they hadn’t gone down the road of nickel and diming passengers. BUT I will say that a lot of this is because airlines don’t appear at the top of the flight price comparison site and need to; B6 in particular are nowhere near the top even though they are competitive once you price in the cost of the extras on other airlines that B6 included in the ticket; United in particular should have a giant NO CABIN BAG ALLOWANCE sign on all flight options on Skyscanner and the ilk.

  13. The former destructor of Spirit Airlines, Ben Baldanza is on their board. The ruining of this once great airline is inevitable with him even in the room.

  14. Tough news, just means fares went up by 10-25% if you’re a mosaic like me and prize the same day change and cancel features too much to buy basic. I’ve been a Jetblue fanatic for years, flying them over cheaper alternatives, but this doesn’t feel very good.

  15. Slightly confused with the 0 included bags on the most flexible (and expensive) fare. I almost thought it was a typo when I got the email this morning from TrueBlue.

  16. @Tessa

    The reason most of us view basic economy fares with suspicion is that it’s a stealth price increase. If the regular jeblue fare was $99 yesterday for flight x, it will likely soon become $99 for basic economy while the previous regular fare goes up to ~$125. Reason being, the airline just cares about showing up as the lowest fare on kayak/expedia/google flights and it’s easier for them to push for add-ons during booking.

    This move is particularly frustrating for Mosaic members because many airlines allow their elite members to buy basic economy yet get most of the regular economy benefits, typically advance seat booking & cancellation. So jetblue is now asking their most valuable customers to book at a higher category, which would seem to be a slap in the face, considering Mosaic is already has the lowest benefits among elite programs.

  17. @Tessa I don’t get the Mosaic hysteria either, apart from the fact that this may (or may not, since it’s hard to know what the price would have been)) represent a $20-$40 fare increase for regular Economy. It’s hardly worth losing sleep over.

    @Sean I can’t speak for other airlines, but United, Delta, and American sure don’t let their elites choose their Basic Economy seats in advance without paying for it, and don’t let you cancel tickets, either. And, on United and Delta, as an elite you cannot sit in Economy Plus at all, even if you want to pay for it, which is worse than JetBlue (and AA).

    All you get on United, Delta, and AA as an elite when you buy Basic Economy is priority check-in, earlier boarding, and included checked bags, all of which you still get with Mosaic. (United also gives you an overhead carryon, which is included even without elite status on JetBlue, Delta, and AA.)

    I agree that Blue Basic represents a stealth price increase, but I’m not sure how it’s worse than what the big three are offering to their elite members when they buy Basic Economy.

    On what airline(s) are you basing your info?

  18. Thanks for the explanation. I frequently fly lax to jfk and love my mosaic benefits. Is it worth it to continue with mosaic now as someone mentioned this earlier. I have a jetblue card so get mosaic from card spending

  19. This is complete and utter BS – Longtime Mosaic Member – Turning a decent airline into Southwest, which I won’t fly under any circumstances –

  20. In response to Steven M, they do listen to there customers. Customers probably said they wish the prices would be lower because they are so expensive, so they said ok, we can do that. Lets make this stupid new category and put it at the bottom, keep the category that was at the bottom, move it up a notch, now this new category at the bottom now will be cheaper, but you will lose all the benefits you had, you can now pay for those benefits, in turn making it more expensive, but we listened to you. No they did not listen to us, they listened to there greed.

  21. Looks like these new fares are also not included in their 5 day price drop policy.

    “Blue Basic fares do not allow changes or cancellations, and are exempt from ‘Honoring a Lower Fare’. Any changed or cancelled Blue Basic fares will be forfeited.”

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