JetBlue Plans to Roll Out Basic Economy Offering by End of 2019

JetBlue plane

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JetBlue executives said Tuesday that the airline will roll out its spin on basic economy fares by the end of 2019.

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

A snippet from JetBlue’s quarterly earnings presentation makes clear JetBlue will roll out basic economy by the end of 2019.


The airline has tentatively called its new take on basic economy “Blue Save” fares, though that name may change. 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.

“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.

The timing of when these fares will go on sale is still unclear beyond the “end of year” timeframe JetBlue set. Geraghty and other JetBlue executives didn’t offer more specifics during a Tuesday quarterly earnings call.

“Our fares are an all-inclusive offering,” she said Tuesday. “Unlike other carriers that have launched Basic Economy, we still have all this ahead of us.”


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. While airlines’ tout these as lower-priced fares, 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 for 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.


jetBlue Basic Economy 2019


Bottom Line

It won’t be long before JetBlue begins selling fares with fewer frills, just like the rest of the U.S. airlines. But just what you’ll get – and what you won’t – remains unclear.


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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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