Jetblue Rolls out New Basic Economy

Last week, JetBlue revised its fare structure by adding two new categories. Blue Basic is a close equivalent of Basic Economy on other airlines, and Blue Extra (formerly Blue Flex) is a refundable fare with a number of additional perks. Blue and Mint remain unchanged; the old Blue Plus fare, which includes one free checked bag, will still be offered on some international routes. If that’s not complicated enough, not all fares will be available on all routes.

JetBlue loyalists are crying over Blue Basic, complaining that the fare brings JetBlue one step closer to the business model of American, Delta and United. However, there are significant differences. On the legacy carriers, Basic Economy seats are the most cramped and least comfortable on the plane. When you book Basic Blue, you’re allowed a personal item and a full-sized carry-on, space permitting. You’ll still get a seat as roomy as any other (excluding Even More Space, of course), as well as complimentary snacks and drinks, high-speed internet access, and movies and DIRECTV on demand. Until the planes are reconfigured, Basic Blue is a change in fare and benefits but not comfort.

Here’s how the two new fares break down:

Blue Basic: If you book your flight online, you’ll only receive two TrueBlue points per dollar (compared with six points per dollar with the other fares). The following are not allowed: cancellations (you forfeit the entire fare), changes, same-day changes (even for Mosaic members, JetBlue’s elite tier), revenue standby and advanced core seat selection (you won’t be able to select a seat until 24 hours before the flight, unless you want to pay a fee). You board last with Blue Basic and are charged for checked bags, although the assumption at this point is that a “full-sized carry-on” would include a rollaboard.

Blue Extra: You earn six TrueBlue points per dollar when booking online. You receive early boarding as well as free cancellations, changes, same-day changes, revenue standby and advanced core seat selection. Even More Speed (JetBlue’s expedited security lane) is also included. Strangely enough, this fare doesn’t include free checked baggage, although the ability to board early will probably guarantee enough space in the overhead bins to stash your carry-on.

The new fares are initially available on flights from Fort Lauderdale to Nassau, Bahamas, and between New York City and Long Beach, California. They will expand to the entire JetBlue schedule over the next few months. It’s been widely reported that the airline anticipates additional revenues of $150 million in 2020 as a result of Blue Basic. Much of that profit will probably come from price-conscious passengers who book the lower fare and then decide they want to add extras such as a checked bag (or more likely, from passengers who board last and discover there’s no more room in the overhead bins).

How cheap are they? I did a search for a flight from NYC to Long Beach for next June, and Blue Basic came up $20 lower each way. While everyone’s financial priorities are different, a savings of $40 might not seem large enough to give up being able to cancel or change plans, not to mention the inconvenience of boarding last and possibly paying a checked bag fee ($40 each way). On the same dates, the Fort Lauderdale-Nassau flight was $15 lower each way.

Here are four takeaways from the introduction of Blue Basic:

  1. JetBlue’s fare structure now resembles the legacy airlines more closely, both by offering a Basic Economy fare and implementing a schedule that the occasional traveler will find complex and difficult to understand.
  2. Previously, Mosaic members (JetBlue’s elite tier) received free checked bags, early boarding, access to the expedited security lane, and the ability to avoid change and cancellation fees. Now they will still be exempt from bag fees, but they’ll lose all other perks if they buy a Blue Basic fare.
  3. The JetBlue Plus credit card, issued by Barclays ($99 annual fee), comes with one free checked bag and now looks like more of a bargain than ever. If you take six JetBlue flights per year, you save nearly $500.
  4. Look for more changes in the months to come. As of now, on routes where the Blue Plus fare is still offered, it will include one free checked bag, while the more expensive Blue Extra will not. Glitches like these will be ironed out over time, and adjustments will be made according to customer demand and the realities of the market.

Source: frugal travel guy

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