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JetBlue Says its Basic Economy Fares Are Coming Soon

JetBlue plane

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JetBlue executives indicated on Tuesday that its version of basic economy fares will launch sometime from mid-November through the end of the year, finally giving some certainty to its plans that have been in the works for more than a year.

The New York-based airline first announced it would join the basic economy rush back in the fall of 2018. It will be the last major U.S. carrier to adopt these no-frills fares – aside from Southwest, which has vowed it will never sell basic economy. From United to Delta and Alaska, just what you get on each airline on a basic economy fare varies widely.

And in the case of JetBlue, it’s still not exactly clear what these fares will entail.

 

jetBlue Basic Economy 2019

 

JetBlue has said these fares won’t be as punitive as its competitors like United, who don’t even allow basic economy fares to bring carry-on bags. It’s tentatively called them “Blue Save” fares, though that name may change.

“Customers who opt for this fare will agree to some limits, which might include things like boarding order, seating, and change/cancelation flexibility, but we will not make them feel like second-class citizens,” airline President Joanna Geraghty wrote at the time the airline announced its plans.

And expect these new fares to be on sale for nearly every route JetBlue flies. On Tuesday, Geraghty said its new fare option will quickly be available “largely system-wide, but there will be some markets where we will not offer it.”

Just what routes might be safe from the spread of basic economy remain unclear. It could be on the long flights to South America. Or perhaps JetBlue won’t sell these fares on the premier transcontinental routes from East to West Coast – or on its impending flights to London, which are expected to begin in 2021.

While the airline still hasn’t put a firm date on when these new fares will go on sale, Geraghty said they are looking at rolling out in “the back half of quarter four,” which would put its launch sometime after mid-November.

 

Our Analysis

JetBlue has carved out a real niche among the U.S. airlines, offering near-budget prices for a truly competitive experience. The airline offers free gate-to-gate Wi-Fi, streaming TV onboard, free snacks, and some of the most generous legroom you’ll find in the air.

Read our full review of the inaugural JetBlue flight from Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) to Boston (BOS).

But in the end, JetBlue couldn’t resist the urge to follow other airlines’ lead and start selling some form of basic economy fares. It’s just too lucrative for airlines.

While airlines tout basic economy as lower-priced fares, that’s a mirage. In reality, it’s just a way to squeeze more money out of travelers by charging for seat assignment, priority boarding, and other perks. You’re paying the same amount and getting less.

And despite JetBlue’s big talk about doing basic economy better than its peers, there’s no guarantee that will be true. Axing seat selection, boarding last, and blocking flight changes would largely put JetBlue in line with both Delta and American.

 

Bottom Line

Watch for these fares to go on sale in the next month or two.

 

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Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

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