JetBlue has altered its basic economy product to take away certain features. This comes as the airline has upgraded some of its other classes by eliminating change fees. The airline billed the changes as further segmenting its product and giving customers a choice to determine what they value more. With that, basic economy tickets will no longer come with carry-on baggage.
JetBlue takes away bags from basic economy
Branded as “Blue Basic,” JetBlue’s basic economy is the airline’s lowest class of fares. JetBlue believes that the old basic economy product was not as differentiated as it should be from the general “Blue” fare. So, JetBlue is updating the basic economy fare and making the product more similar to a base fare on an ultra-low-cost carrier (ULCC).
Blue Basic customers will no longer be allowed to bring a carry-on bag with them. The airline, citing “overhead bin stress,” is taking away the option for basic economy passengers from July 20th to bring a carry-on bag with them. One way around is to purchase a basic economy fare and purchase an extra-legroom seat to receive one bag.
The policy goes into effect on July 20th for Blue Basic fares purchased on or after February 25th. From that day on, Blue Basic customers will only be able to travel with a personal item that fits underneath the seat in front of them.
JetBlue is trying to ensure its Mint, Blue, and Blue Extra customers are able to bring a bag onboard, which is one reason why Blue Basic customers will not get to bring a carry-on bag.
Passengers who otherwise want to fly with a bag will not be able to take a bag onboard. If a Blue Basic customer has a bag with them at boarding, they will be charged a $65 fee to check the bag. That fee could go as high as $180 if a customer has already checked one or two bags.
This does not apply to Mosaic members, active military, and unaccompanied minors. An approved pet carrier is still allowed to fly with a passenger on a Blue Basic fare.
Competing head-on against ULCCs
ULCCs are a major force in the US marketplace, and they are growing in some of JetBlue’s biggest markets. Blue Basic is a fare that is similar to what the ULCCs offer as their cheapest fare.
As part of this change, JetBlue will be looking at options to reduce the price of a Blue Basic fare. So, while customers will be able to get a cheaper ticket, they will not have complimentary baggage.
Eliminating change fees
JetBlue has finally announced that it is getting rid of change and cancel fees on non-Blue Basic fares. Blue Basic customers will need to pay $100 for bookings made after April 1st.
Changes and cancellations within the US, Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America will incur a $100 fee. For other routes, the price is $200– even if customers have status with the airline.
For all other fare classes (Blue, Blue Plus, Blue Extra, and Mint), passengers will receive complimentary cancelations and changes. Do note that JetBlue currently has a waiver in place through March 31st that allows all fares, including Blue Basic fares, to be changed with no additional fee. A fare difference may apply.
The changes will be good for some customers
Non-Blue Basic customers will be guaranteed to receive overhead bin space. If, however, JetBlue runs out of overhead bin space on a flight and a passenger’s bag has to be gate-checked, then JetBlue will offer that passenger a $25 credit good for travel on JetBlue for one year. The goal is to get as many customers to buy up to Blue as possible.
JetBlue is not necessarily bucking a trend. United Airlines is another carrier that does not allow for basic economy passengers to bring a bag when they fly with the airline.
American Airlines used to bar basic economy passengers from flying with a carry-on. However, the airline changed its policy to allow for basic economy passengers to fly with a carry-on. Delta Air Lines allows for basic economy customers to fly with a carry-on bag and a personal item.
Famously, Southwest Airlines does not have a basic economy fare. Passengers traveling with that airline actually receive two free complimentary checked bags in addition to being able to fly with a carry-on and personal item.
Stay informed: Sign up for our daily aviation news digest.
As JetBlue prepares to enter London, the airline is further differentiating its products and fares. Its Mint business class received a huge upgrade. JetBlue will likely differentiate this for long-haul international flying when it comes to London, but, for domestic itineraries and short-haul international ones, JetBlue is clearly showing it is ready to compete against ULCCs while taking care of its more premium customers.
Do you think JetBlue is making the right move by ending basic economy carry-on baggage allowance? Let us know in the comments!