JetBlue Changes Carry-On Rules, Cuts Change Fees

Filed Under: JetBlue

JetBlue has today revealed some significant changes, and they’re a mixed bag. JetBlue is eliminating change fees on most economy fares, while the airline is also eliminating free carry-ons for basic economy fares. Let’s look at the changes in a bit more detail, as they seem to hint at a fundamental strategy shift for JetBlue.

JetBlue eliminates change fees on most fares

Several months ago we saw most major US airlines eliminate change fees. JetBlue was the outlier, as it was the only major non-ultra low cost carrier in the US to not make such an announcement. Well, that’s finally changing.

JetBlue is eliminating change and cancelation fees on Blue, Blue Extra, Blue Plus, and Mint fares. The one exception is that there will continue to be change fees on Blue Basic fares (this is the name of JetBlue’s basic economy fares). On the plus side, JetBlue’s basic economy fares will be changeable for a fee, as follows:

  • Blue Basic fares within the US, or to/from the Caribbean, Central America, or Mexico, can be changed for $100
  • Blue Basic fares in other regions can be changed for $200

There are a few things to note about JetBlue’s new change fee policy:

  • Changes or cancelations need to happen before departure
  • This doesn’t mean that almost all tickets are refundable, but rather that credit from any canceled trip will be deposited as a credit in your JetBlue Travel Bank
  • Previously one of the biggest benefits of JetBlue Mosaic status was free ticket changes, so that’s no longer an advantage of the status
  • JetBlue is unique in allowing changes (for a fee) to basic economy tickets, as other airlines continue to make these non-refundable

JetBlue is eliminating change fees on most fare types

JetBlue cuts carry-ons for basic economy fares

It’s not all good news at JetBlue. For travel booked as of February 26, 2021, and flown as of July 20, 2021, JetBlue will no longer allow basic economy (Blue Basic) passengers to take a free carry-on bag into the cabin, but rather they’ll only be able to bring a small personal item that fits underneath the seat.

JetBlue is trying to spin this as a positive:

“Carry-on bags are a major pain point during boarding because there isn’t enough room in the overhead bins for everyone to bring a bag. It’s time to rethink our approach. The pandemic and low customer counts have offered a glimpse of life without ‘overhead bin stress.’ As Customers return, we want to hold on to a little of this zen during the boarding process and make overhead bin space an expectation, not a gamble.”

With this change, JetBlue is guaranteeing overhead bin space for all non-basic economy passengers. In the unlikely event the airline runs out of overhead bin space and has to gate check a bag, the airline will offer a $25 credit good for travel on JetBlue for one year. While I don’t like this policy change, I at least commend JetBlue for making a new promise to those who are entitled to free carry-on bags.

JetBlue is adding a new carry-on guarantee

JetBlue is claiming that it’s trying to compete more efficiently with ultra low cost carriers (ULCCs):

  • ULCCs have grown in JetBlue’s key markets, and JetBlue believes Blue Basic is a better alternative
  • JetBlue says that Blue Basic offers more bang-for-your-buck than ULCCs, thanks to free wifi, TVs, free drinks and snacks, etc.
  • JetBlue will “strategically lower fares in Blue Basic to attract ultra-low-cost customers”

JetBlue’s graphic about ULCCs

Bottom line

JetBlue is eliminating change fees on everything but basic economy fares, and even basic economy fares will be changeable for a fee. On top of that, the airline is eliminating free carry-on bags for basic economy passengers, and is guaranteeing overhead bin space for all others.

It’s claimed that the airline will price more aggressively for basic economy fares in order to compete with ULCCs, though only time will tell if that actually happens.

What do you make of these changes from JetBlue?

  1. Question is what they do with Mosaic now- change fee waiver was easily the single most valuable benefit of mosaic. A status that now amounts to just priority boarding, free drinks, and ability to redeem points for EMS at a good rate isn’t worth the effort to obtain it IMO

  2. Previously, the most valuable customer was a business traveler booking close in. Those customers are few and far between. Now the most valuable customer seems to be the leisure customer willing to pay a bit more up front to get better service. They get free cancellation, waived bag fees, and other benefits if they hold a certain credit card. Jet Blue seems to be adjusting to that reality.

  3. There is not enough space because of crews using first few rows as their carry on storage and not enforcing small item underneath the seat rule.

  4. I have a question:

    Will JetBlue allow Cardholders on Blue-Basic fares a free carry-on bag, or will those customers not be able to bring a carry-on either?

    United has this exemption for cardholders, so curious if JetBlue the same, or if worse than United.

  5. What about the cardholders, they won’t be able to carry their carry on onboard even if they get the basic flight tkt? What about flying with a baby?

  6. @Chas
    Now even the rate to redeem points for EMS seats has worsened.
    Mosaic is starting to lose its luster…

  7. in light of B6′ pilots’ decision to not allow the full codeshare with AA, there will be more of these or B6 will have to shell out some more money for its pilots.

    B6 burned more cash than any US airline in 2020 as a percent of revenue; they are desperate to come up with ways to generate revenue. Some will stick. Some won’t.

  8. JetBlue is really grasping here, and I think it’s becoming clear they have no strategic vision of what type of carrier they want to be. We’ve seen it over and over again in the industry, you can’t be all things to all customers. The JetBlue ‘experience’ is so disjointed with this move to appeal to ULCC pax with very UN-ULCC-like moves (F9 and NK allow you to buy into a carry on, for one). I predict they will quickly realize this kind of unbundling will not work (remembering F9’s experiments over the past decade before getting it right). You have to give customers CHOICES and OPTIONS to pay for if you’re going to unbundle.

  9. Chase is absolutely right. They had a niche, and theyre throwing it all down the toilet to chase Spirit to the bottom. What a disaster.

  10. I believe that airlines should allow passengers to have a free checked bag , this way people will not carry large suitcases on board !! These airlines are to gullable , years ago when one of even two bags were checked for free that was fine !! I think it’s unfair to travel and also have to pay to carry personal belongs .

  11. There should be stricter guidelines on the size of the carry on. I have seen passengers bring on board a carry on that possibly should have been checked in. Many people travel for short weekend getaways and its nice to have the benefit from Jetblue to offer the perk. Main reason why I do not travel with any other airline that charges to bring a carry on onbord. As for free snacks, I prefer to pass on cookies and chips.

  12. Ultimately I see airlines going the way of charging for carry ons but having a smaller charge for checked bags so passengers are encouraged to check bags. This should would streamline boarding. I would imagine top elite members and those in premium cabins would be exempt while maybe lowering elite levels might get a reduced fee.

  13. I also agree that i pay an annual fee for the Jet Blue card i feel that a carry on bag is reasonable as long as it can fit in the overhead or under the seat: Why are friends and relatives and crew gets a free pass to carry on large suit cases on board and we who pay an annual fee for the card need to pay to carry luggage , then reaching the destinations things are missing from the checked luggage . My brother had lots of things stolen traveling to the caribbean ,more than once : i myself had things stolen from my checked luggage traveling to Florida : the bags go through the x ray machines why is it necessary for someone to physically open and go through someone else luggage to take what they want : Ive used the TSA approved lock and arriving to my destination the lock was completely gone , if you take it off then put it back on the suitcase ,also when the luggage gets damaged you get lots of crap as they dont want to compensate you when they damage your luggage.

  14. JetBlue is not an ultra low cost airline. They have no business trying to be like one. They’re not trying to compete with low cost airlines at all here, they just want to suck more money out of your wallet. If they really want to compete with ultra low cost airlines, they can just lower their fares and then heavily market how much better they are. At the same price, I really don’t know why anyone would pick an ultra low-cost carrier over JetBlue. This just seems another way for them to cut costs.

  15. The issue with the over head thing are these airlines allowing people to bring on board pieces that can not fit under the seat. Now the 2 pieces have to go up top taking space from other passengers. People are bringing on board all kinds of crap. Plus the other small item for under the seat. I have been seeing this BS since 99. The passengers do not respect the rules. Also how many people would really want to check their lap tops, cameras, IPads , no few extra clothes to have with you etc. Its not cool for airlines to expect passengers to feel ok with their electronics etc to have to be checked. Just think, damaged, stolen, lost. If the airlines would just in force their carry on rules to begin with it would work out better.

  16. Mosaic is now WORTHLESS ………..GOOD LUCK …..NOT WHAT IT USED TO BE

  17. Odd man out here. I like the idea of limiting carry ons for the reasons Jet Blue states. Speed up the boarding and especially deplaning processes. It’s called “basic economy” for a reason. One reason Southwest is so much more efficient than the rest is that they allow two checked bags for free. So there are way less bulky carry ons to deal with on board.

  18. JetBlue is commonly thought of as low cost but it is not cheap and often times more than legacy carriers.

  19. I don’t think this is fair at all, people look for the cheapest flight since airline prices has skyrocketed. I should be able to catch a quick flight and be able to have a free carry on specially since the prices have not changed significantly. No one will purchase the cheapest flight if they know they have to travel with a purse. This is unrealistic specially those traveling to the Caribbean. JetBlue knows this. They are strategically doing this so people can stop buying the cheapest option and they can still say “they offer a cheaper ticket” this will create a problem in so many people that do not know or understand the difference.

  20. If basically we are all in agreement, why are there so many problems. Basically we should all be treated equally. We should get what we pay for. We don’t. I travel frequently. I am Mosaic. I pay for me credit card.. I pay to sit in the front. Never do we have overhead space because jet blue has different rules at each airport. E is no respect for rules The company should be trying harder not charging more.

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