JetBlue Joins the Basic Economy Bandwagon with Blue Basic

In recent years a slew of major domestic airlines have attempted to compete with more budget-friendly carriers by offering so-called “basic economy” fares. While the trend started with American Airlines, it has since spread to Delta and United. Now it seems another popular carrier is hopping on-board as well. As CNN Business reports JetBlue has announced the introduction of Blue Basic, which will offer lower fares in exchange for fewer frills.

One of the largest changes with Blue Basic compared to their other fare classes is that tickets are completely nonrefundable or changeable. Instead passengers will simply forfeit their fare. In contrast cancellation fees for the airline’s standard Blue bookings range from $75 to $200 based on the price of the ticket. Similar fees also apply if a passenger would like to make changes to their itinerary. Meanwhile their Blue Extra fare are fully refundable and changeable for no additional fee.

Like other basic economy offerings, JetBlue won’t allow Blue Basic customers to select their seat ahead of time unless they pay an extra fee. Also of note is that those flying on a Blue Basic fare will board the plane last. However customers are welcome to purchase an Even More Speed pass for priority boarding. Additionally members of the airline’s TrueBlue Mosaic frequent-flier elite program will continue to enjoy priority boarding regardless of their fare class. Speaking of frequent flier points, passengers on Blue Basic fares will only accrue one TrueBlue point per dollar spent as opposed to the three points per dollar typically earned.

Aside from those differences, there are several aspects of the JetBlue experience that will remain the same even for Blue Basic customers. For one, passengers will still be entitled to one carry-on item as well as one personal item. That said, in the event that overhead space is full — a likelihood since Blue Basic customers board last — carry-on items may be checked to your final destination free of charge. The airline also notes that Blue Basic passengers will enjoy free snacks and drinks on board, free WiFi, DirecTV and movies, and “the most legroom in coach.” In that way the airline’s new offering still stands in contrast to budget airlines such as Spirit or Allegiant.

Speaking to the decision to add the discount fare class, JetBlue president and COO Joanna Geraghty said in a statement, “Our new low fare will be anything but basic, designed to help customers save while still offering the full JetBlue experience.” She added, “This will attract ultra-low-fare seekers to JetBlue, where we can take better care of them than other airlines do.”

Overall it’s hard to say for sure whether basic economy fares are a good thing or bad thing for passengers. In some cases those who simply need to get from Point A to Point B might not mind the inability to select a seat or that they’ll need to board so late into the process. At the same time, there are those who might not know what they’re getting into by booking a basic fare an may very well end up spending more once all of the various fees are accounted for. Therefore, whether you’re traveling for the holidays are already planning for next summer, make sure to pay extra attention to your options — and how much you’ll need to pay in fees.


Jonathan Dyer

I'm a small town guy living in Los Angeles looking to make solid financial decisions. I write for a number of finance websites, including HuffingtonPost and Business2Community. I founded in 2015 to focus on personal finance and the emerging FinTech markets.

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