And then there were none. Well, almost.
JetBlue is the latest U.S. airline to adopt basic economy fares, with more restrictions around changing, cancellations, and seat selection in exchange for a lower price tag. That leaves just Southwest as the only holdout, as all other major U.S. carriers are now selling basic economy fares.
And as you might expect, JetBlue does things a bit differently with its own spin on basic economy – Blue Basic fares. Here’s everything you need to know about these fares.
What You Get with JetBlue Blue Basic Fares
JetBlue’s basic economy fares were in the works for more than a year. Executives at the airline promised that their fares would be more generous than their competitors.
Taking a look at what you get with a Blue Basic fare, that’s largely true.
- Baggage: Get a carry-on bag and personal item for free; pay $30 each way for a checked bag
- Seat Selection: Pay for advance seat selection, free within 24 hours of departure
- Boarding: Boards last
- Earning TrueBlue Points: Yes, but only 2x per $1 spent (compared to 6x points per $1 on other fares)
- Ticket Changes and Cancellation: Not allowed, except for within 24 hours of booking
JetBlue’s seat selection policy for Blue Basic fares is among the best in the industry. You can pay an additional fee to pick a seat in advance or pick the best of what’s left within 24 hours of departure for free. That’s nearly identical to Delta, which offers two ways for basic economy flyers to pick a seat.
But it’s not all good news. You only earn 2x TrueBlue points per $1 – a drastic cut from the norm of 6x points per $1 spent on fares.
And while boarding last is a universal truth in basic economy, it’s much harder to beat JetBlue basic economy fares. Most airlines will give you priority boarding if you hold one of their co-branded credit cards. But that’s not the case with JetBlue; even with the JetBlue Plus Card (which carries a $99 annual fee) you still board last flying a Blue Basic fare.
JetBlue’s basic economy is truly a mixed bag. There’s a lot to like about these fares compared to the airline’s competitors. But there are some painful parts, too.
The ability to pick a seat for free within 24 hours of departure – or pay up to pick a seat earlier – is generous. And at first glance, the fees to pick a seat in advance are very reasonable, starting at just $5 each way for a middle seat or any seat at the back of the plane.
You can bring on a carry-on bag no problem, as that’s the standard these days even in basic economy. But finding room to stow it could be an issue as you’ll always board last.
Unlike other airlines, you don’t get priority boarding by holding a co-branded JetBlue credit card. That makes it much harder to beat JetBlue basic economy. The only way to get early boarding is by holding JetBlue’s Mosaic status.
But above all, it’s important to realize that just like basic economy fares across the airlines, JetBlue Blue Basic fares are not a good deal. These aren’t discounted ticket prices. Instead, Blue Basic fare prices have largely taken the place of more-inclusive main cabin fares. You’re paying the same and getting less.
With JetBlue’s introduction of these fares, it’s undeniable: Basic economy isn’t going anywhere. And while JetBlue’s version of these skimpy fares isn’t too painful, it’s still a disappointing trend.
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.