JetBlue Adds “Preferred” Economy Seat Fee

JetBlue Adds “Preferred” Economy Seat Fee

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JetBlue is adding a new fee for assigning seats in economy. This is objectively a negative development for passengers, though (unfortunately) probably a pretty sensible change.

JetBlue starts charging for some regular economy seats

JetBlue has Even More Space seating, which is the carrier’s extra legroom economy section located at the front of the cabin, as well as at exit rows. This has long been available for an extra fee, or for select Mosaic members.

Beyond Even More Space seats, though, JetBlue hasn’t had fees for assigning standard economy seats. That has finally changed, as JetBlue has just created the concept of “preferred” economy seats. These are the non-extra legroom economy seats located toward the front of the economy cabin.

There’s now a fee to assign these seats. The fee varies by route, and as you’d expect, it’s lower than the Even More Space seat cost.

JetBlue has new seat assignment fees

JetBlue is smart to make this negative change

This is objectively a negative change from JetBlue, since you’ll now have to pay to assign seats that were previously free. That being said, in all honesty I don’t really blame JetBlue for making this change, and think it’s logical.

JetBlue is in a tough spot financially, as it’s in the awkward market position between ultra low cost carriers and the major global legacy carriers. JetBlue has a fantastic inflight product, better than on most legacy airlines, with seat back entertainment, free Wi-Fi, more legroom, tasty snacks, and more.

The problem is, JetBlue isn’t really able to command a revenue premium for its better product. The airline has tried, but hasn’t had much luck. So when the major legacy carriers similarly charge for seats toward the front of economy, you can’t blame JetBlue for trying to do the same. Some people will pay it, and that’s basically free revenue.

Again, I wish things weren’t that way, but JetBlue is in a rough spot, and I don’t think anyone is going to book away from JetBlue because of this policy.

JetBlue is now charging for more economy seat assignments

Bottom line

JetBlue is now charging to assign preferred seats in economy, which is any seat with regular legroom located toward the front of the cabin, behind the Even More Space section. This is ultimately a BS fee, if you ask me, but it’s also one that legacy carriers charge.

As much as I hate to say it, since JetBlue has a hard time commanding a revenue premium by offering a better product, it makes sense for JetBlue to try to join the legacies with more junk fees like this. Some people are willing to pay these fees, so…

What do you make of JetBlue’s new fee for preferred seats?

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  1. James S Guest

    "The problem is, JetBlue isn’t really able to command a revenue premium for its better product. The airline has tried, but hasn’t had much luck. "

    Jetblue used to command loyalty in the markets they were strong in, like Boston. It's likely they would have developed that loyalty in other markets as they grew.

    Instead, they threw away what made them special. They decreased seat pitch. They started charging for bags. They become...

    "The problem is, JetBlue isn’t really able to command a revenue premium for its better product. The airline has tried, but hasn’t had much luck. "

    Jetblue used to command loyalty in the markets they were strong in, like Boston. It's likely they would have developed that loyalty in other markets as they grew.

    Instead, they threw away what made them special. They decreased seat pitch. They started charging for bags. They become a legacy airline with the inability to recover from IROPS in a timely manner like the legacies can. So why fly Jetblue when United costs the same but has a better on time record?

    This will simply continue them down the wrong path.

    1. NSFU Guest

      ...because the JetBlue economy seat, hard and soft product, is superior to all of the Big 3 economy seat offerings, especially pitch, legroom, free wifi, and Jetblue has improved its on-time departures and IROPs recovery significantly over the past 3-6 months.

    2. James S Guest

      But this isnt true? I get free wifi on every united flight. I get IFE on most United flights. The seats are the same concrete benches everyone is using.

      Do you only fly the Jetblue 190s? The rest of the airline isnt like that anymore.

  2. esokol Member

    Will these be available for free at check-in for Mosaic customers?

  3. George Romey Guest

    It's what all the airlines for the most part are doing. Don't want to pay for a seat you can settle for a middle in the back of the a/c.

  4. pstm91 Diamond

    Just following the other airlines doing it. The only seat fee that really bugs me is charging for seats in business class. Shelling out thousands of dollars and then you're really going to charge an extra ~100 or so bucks for seat selection, really??

    1. Dominic Kivni Guest

      The point of the seat selection fee in business class is not to make more money, but again to keep better seats available to status holders (the people who shell out thousands of dollars repeatedly). Those customers matter far more to an airline than a one-time business class passenger

    2. pstm91 Diamond

      They've done that for years by simply blocking seats and making those seats available to customers with status. The fees are absolutely a money grab, even if they don't bring in that much revenue.

    3. Dominic Kivni Guest

      @pstm91, yes they may have blocked those seats for status holders before, but what if you aren't a status holder and want an extra legroom or preferred seat? Now you have a choice to pay for the better seat if you want vs having them reserved solely for status holders

    4. pstm91 Diamond

      @Dominic by all means, charge for preferred/extra legroom seats. No issues there. However we're at a point now where even standard seats are being charged for. Going back to my original point, that's especially egregious and absurd when it comes to charging for seat selection in business class (special seats like the VS bulkhead aside).

    5. AD Diamond

      Lets be clear, airlines charging the same fee for every seat in business class (looking at you BA) unless you're on a fully refundable fare is NOT reserving seats for their most loyal flyers. It's a revenue grab. And many people will pay to get a window seat while traveling alone or a center pair together. Reserving the best seats for their loyal travelers would either involve blocking them (as some do) or charging more...

      Lets be clear, airlines charging the same fee for every seat in business class (looking at you BA) unless you're on a fully refundable fare is NOT reserving seats for their most loyal flyers. It's a revenue grab. And many people will pay to get a window seat while traveling alone or a center pair together. Reserving the best seats for their loyal travelers would either involve blocking them (as some do) or charging more for the best seats and then waiving that for their high tier elites.

    6. Exit Row Seat Guest

      An annoyance for sure, but B6 is in need of cash.
      Should they win the appeal, $3.8B; should they lose, $400M. Right now, cash is King!!

  5. Brent Guest

    This seems fine to me. I find seat pricing annoying, but hey, if they can make a few more bucks, go right ahead. I can sit in the back half of the plane.

  6. splane21 New Member

    This practice is so weird... If I book Main Cabin I'm picking a free seat. When I book basic in Delta I usually get put in the preferred seats for free since those are the only seats open on the plane. Essentially people who book basic will get preferred seats for free and people who book main cabin last minute (with high fares) might not even be able to select a seat for free when the only seats open are preferred seats

  7. Tim Dunn Diamond

    B6 cannot command a revenue premium because it has such poor operational reliability. They say they are going to fix that - so let us see.

  8. NedsKid Diamond

    At what point do you have so many different seat fees and different fare products that it sort of stops making sense? Other than Delta, who pretty much consistently puts Basic Economy folks in the very back of the cabin, as an elite on various airlines I'm commonly sitting in the extra legroom seats or premium seats with those who paid nothing or bought a basic fare... because there's nowhere else to put them.

    ...

    At what point do you have so many different seat fees and different fare products that it sort of stops making sense? Other than Delta, who pretty much consistently puts Basic Economy folks in the very back of the cabin, as an elite on various airlines I'm commonly sitting in the extra legroom seats or premium seats with those who paid nothing or bought a basic fare... because there's nowhere else to put them.

    Once upon a time, Midwest Express Airlines decided it had to compete with AirTran's entrance to Milwaukee. They both flew the 717, with Midwest seating 88 and AirTran 117 for the same or lower fares. So Midwest took theirs up to 99 seats (didn't want to go over that because they were convinced adding a third flight attendant would destroy the economics) with 40 seats in 2x2 and 59 in 2x3 with about 33in pitch. The 40 "Signature Seats" up front had an upcharge of anywhere from $20+ (a lot were at $40 on average length routes I recall). Well, pretty soon the repeat travelers figured out why pay for it because they're gonna have to sit 40 people up there anyway. If a flight was looking full, they'd just neglect to pre-select a seat in the standard "Saver Seats" and roll the dice... not like they'd really end up any worse than they would have been and success on a better seat was pretty good odds. Of course we know what happened to that airline....

    I am all about ancillary fees and I love the ULCC model because I can fly to Florida for $17 (and they'll even let me be an elite and pick a good seat free after enough trips) with my backpack. If I want more, I'll pay for it or fly someone with it all included. But is there a point where airlines have to go all or nothing? Even with Spirit, if you're last to check in and there's only Big Front Seats left, the kiosk will give you one for free.

    I wonder what the "spoilage" is on premium seats that may go out with a body in them but not one who earned or paid for it.

  9. Justin Guest

    Well our family has flown them 6-7 times this year due to being able to pick seats and a price advantage over United. If the price advantage is gone, then we would likely end up back on United as IAD is closer than DCA. Some people may pay more but they also may lose passengers who comparison shop the total cost of flight and/or immensely annoyed by extra fees which jack up cost calculations and simply avoid ULCC tactic airlines all together.

  10. Stan Lane Guest

    Had the JetBlue Plus card back in 2017, and used to have that as my main LGA-FLL corridor carrier with about 20 flights per year. After my 3rd delayed flight in a row, I've never flown JetBlue since 2020. I'm surprised they're still in business.

  11. Dominic Kivni Guest

    Why is seat selection a "junk fee" in any sense? If you don't value sitting further up front, you can pick a seat further back for free. If you do value sitting further upfront, then clearly that has a monetary value, and airlines would be dumb not to pick it up. Plus, I'm sure these will be free for status holders, so it helps keep these preferred seats free for status holders as a reward...

    Why is seat selection a "junk fee" in any sense? If you don't value sitting further up front, you can pick a seat further back for free. If you do value sitting further upfront, then clearly that has a monetary value, and airlines would be dumb not to pick it up. Plus, I'm sure these will be free for status holders, so it helps keep these preferred seats free for status holders as a reward for flying Jetblue frequently.

    Separately, the fact that "investing in the product" on both the economy and Mint side haven't generated a revenue premium as you note Ben is just another sign that the constant peanut gallery advice from bloggers to "invest in the product" is really just clamoring for more free stuff that airlines know will just lose them money.

  12. danny Guest

    i'm annoyed by preferred seats - at least so far, it's limited to space between extra space and the wing exit rows.

    on another note, for many years, i have found the extra space seats on B6 to be outrageously priced.

  13. AdamH Guest

    You can call this "smart" but I call it infuriating in practice.

    It is pretty absurd to have to pay out of basic then have to pay to select a non middle seat, only to watch the preferred seats go free to basic fares on the day of the flight.

    1. Tim’s Mom Guest

      When DL charges for this it’s considered innovation. When B6 matches it’s all of a sudden a tacky business move?

      Double standard. Classic Tim Dunn.

    2. Tim’s Mom Guest

      Yes waived for Mosaics.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Tim Dunn Diamond

B6 cannot command a revenue premium because it has such poor operational reliability. They say they are going to fix that - so let us see.

2
James S Guest

"The problem is, JetBlue isn’t really able to command a revenue premium for its better product. The airline has tried, but hasn’t had much luck. " Jetblue used to command loyalty in the markets they were strong in, like Boston. It's likely they would have developed that loyalty in other markets as they grew. Instead, they threw away what made them special. They decreased seat pitch. They started charging for bags. They become a legacy airline with the inability to recover from IROPS in a timely manner like the legacies can. So why fly Jetblue when United costs the same but has a better on time record? This will simply continue them down the wrong path.

1
splane21 New Member

This practice is so weird... If I book Main Cabin I'm picking a free seat. When I book basic in Delta I usually get put in the preferred seats for free since those are the only seats open on the plane. Essentially people who book basic will get preferred seats for free and people who book main cabin last minute (with high fares) might not even be able to select a seat for free when the only seats open are preferred seats

1
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