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Update: JetBlue's new change fees and carry-on bag policies have gone into effect.
JetBlue recently announced some rather significant changes to both the airline's carry-on bag policy and change fees. Although there's a mix of good and bad, the overall impact is somewhat negative for the typical passenger.
JetBlue's carry-on bag policy change is undoubtedly a negative while the changes made to the airline's change fee policy are quite positive. Here's what passengers need to know about JetBlue's recent announcement.
The Good: Change Fees Waived for Most Fares
COVID-19's impact on travel has been overwhelmingly negative with one exception: it's led major US airlines to relax change fees and cancellation fees. In addition to airlines waiving cancellation and change fees during the on-going pandemic, all three legacy carriers (American, Delta, and United) have permanently modified policies on canceling and changing itineraries. These changes are great for the passenger.
Now, JetBlue is following suit in announcing that the airline will waive change fees for most fares.
All fares booked through March 31 will continue to enjoy JetBlue's pandemic-related change and cancellation policy. That policy allows passengers to change or cancel their itineraries without penalty. However, beginning in April 2021, JetBlue's new policy goes into effect.
JetBlue's New Change Fee Policy
Starting April 1, 2021, JetBlue's change and cancellation policy will be as follows:
- For Blue, Blue Plus, and Mint fares: No change or cancellation fees prior to the day of travel. You'll still have to pay the fare difference if booking a more-expensive flight. Same-day confirmed switches can be made for $75 without paying a fare difference.
- For Blue Extra fares: No change or cancellation fees (fare difference applies) with free same-day confirmed switches.
- For Blue Basic fares: Flights can be changed or canceled for a $100 fee for travel within the U.S., Caribbean, Mexico, or Central America. The fee will be $200 for all other routes. Same-day confirmed switches can be made for a $75 fee (no fee for Mosaic members), without paying a fare difference.
JetBlue's new change fee policy is fantastic for the typical traveler. However, it eliminates one of the best selling points of the airline's Mosaic elite status tier. TrueBlue Mosaic members no longer receive the benefit of being the only customers to enjoy complimentary itinerary changes. But again, this is an overwhelmingly positive change.
The Bad: JetBlue Eliminates Carry-On Bags for Select Fares
When JetBlue first took to the air just over 21 years ago, the airline's mission was “to bring humanity back to air travel.” So, it's not surprising that JetBlue has been far-more customer-centric compared to most other US airlines for much of the airline's history.
This remains the airline's mission statement. However, over the past few years, we've seen JetBlue cut many of the customer-centric services and policies that made JetBlue what it is today.
JetBlue first started picking away at its passenger-centric policies when the airline decided to cut free checked bags for select fares. Now, JetBlue is embracing the ultra-low-cost carrier (ULCC) model as it has announced that Blue Basic passengers will no longer get to bring on a carry-on bag free of charge.
JetBlue is trying to spin this change as a net benefit to the average traveler. As part of this change, JetBlue announced that customers who booked a Blue, Blue Extra, or Mint fare will be guaranteed a space for their carry-on bag. If the overhead bins fill up and you must gate-check your bag, you will receive a $25 travel bank credit. However, this policy does not include travelers who book a Blue Basic fare. Instead, Blue Basic fares will lose complimentary carry-on bags entirely.
JetBlue's New Carry-On Bag Policy
Blue Basic fares booked on or after February 25, 2021 for travel on July 20, 2021 or later will only include a personal item. Personal items must fit under the seat in front of you. Carry-on bags will not be allowed.
After this policy goes into effect, JetBlue Blue Basic customers that show up at the gate with a carry-on bag will have to pay $65 per bag for up to two pieces of luggage. If you manage to show up with three carry-on bags, the third bag is $180.
There are only a few exceptions to this new policy. According to JetBlue “Mosaic members, travelers that are combining a Blue Basic fare with an Even More Space seat, active military, and unaccompanied minors may still bring a carry-on bag, but only Even More Space customers are guaranteed to get their bag onboard.”
The Bottom Line
I'm personally torn on this announcement. The recent move by major airlines to relax or get rid of change and cancellation fees is a welcomed improvement. However, as an average traveler, you are more likely to want to bring a carry-on bag onto the aircraft. Most passengers are less likely to make changes to their itinerary or cancel it outright.
Additionally, in some cases, some routes operate just once or twice daily. This makes the same-day change benefit far less appealing or even impractical. Finally, JetBlue's decision to eliminate carry-on bags for Blue Basic passengers is a step in the wrong direction. Add in the new carry-on guarantee for all other fares and this new carry-on bag policy seems like a logistical nightmare waiting to happen.
How do you feel about these changes? Does this change the way you view JetBlue?
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