JetBlue Eliminates Ticket Change Fees But Bans Overhead Compartment Access For Cheapest Fares

JetBlue Airways aircraft are displayed at the departure gates of John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.

Fred Prouser | Reuters

JetBlue Airways is ditching ticket change fees for most of its tickets, but travelers buying the cheapest fares should pack light.

The New York-based airline said Tuesday that beginning July 20, it will guarantee overhead compartment space for its standard bus fares up to its Mint business class. But travelers who booked Blue Basic, the airline’s cheapest option, will not be allowed to use overhead compartment space, a policy United Airlines implemented when it began selling no-frills basic economy tickets in 2017.

If JetBlue can’t deliver on its promise, it will give travelers a $ 25 credit. That’s a relatively easy feat during the pandemic when few people are traveling, but finding space in the overhead compartment has been a “major pain point” for travelers during boarding, said the carrier.

Airline executives have said these straightforward options are meant to better compete with discount airlines Spirit Airlines and Frontier, which derive most of their revenue from additional fees for luggage and seat selection. However, they have also said that they want many travelers to avoid these more restrictive rates and pay more for standard economy.

JetBlue says it wants to cut the cheapest and most restrictive fares.

“Currently, our Blue and Blue Basic offerings are very similar to each other,” said JetBlue President and Chief Operating Officer Joanna Geraghty in a note to staff. “We need to better differentiate the two by making Blue the gold standard, while strategically focusing on lowering the price of Blue Basic.”


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