Does This Fare Change Make JetBlue’s Basic Economy Better?

Basic economy is usually a fare class to avoid due to the severe lack of frills. But JetBlue has implemented a new policy for its Blue Basic customers that could change the game for some travelers.

View of an economy cabin on a JetBlue airplane from the rear of the plane looking forward

Blue Basic customers will have one less added fee to contend with starting in September.

Courtesy of JetBlue

It’s about to get cheaper to fly JetBlue, thanks to a change to its most restrictive fare.

Starting September 6, JetBlue will allow passengers flying Blue Basic, JetBlue’s basic economy category, to bring a carry-on bag without paying additional fees. The change will apply to all new and existing tickets, regardless of purchase date.

Currently, fliers who want to bring a carry-on are required to purchase a more expensive fare, and those who are flying Blue Basic and show up to the boarding bridge with a carry-on are forced to gate-check and are charged $65.

“Carry-on bags are an important piece of travel to customers, and when presented with a choice between JetBlue’s award-winning service and another carrier’s basic offering, we want JetBlue to be the easy winner,” JetBlue president Marty St. George said in a statement. “We’re always looking for ways to evolve our offering in response to customer preferences. This is a win-win as we improve the customer experience and keep JetBlue competitive in our industry.”

When the policy goes into effect, all travelers flying on JetBlue flights will be allowed a carry-on bag and a personal item (such as a backpack, purse, or laptop bag) that can fit under their seat as part of their ticket fare. However, the carrier isn’t making any other changes to the fare class. Those flying Blue Basic will still have to pay for checked bags, which now range from $35 to $40 for the first checked bag and from $50 to $60 for the second (JetBlue adopted a surge-pricing model for baggage, adding a charge for checked luggage during “peak” travel periods, which went into effect on March 22). Blue Basic travelers also won’t receive other perks of higher fare categories, such as choosing their seat without a fee, making changes to their tickets, or canceling without a fee (it currently costs $100 for domestic and $200 for transatlantic flight changes for Blue Basic customers).

It’s worth noting that although Blue Basic travelers will be allowed to bring a rollaboard, there is no guarantee that it will end up in the overhead bin. Those flying Blue Basic are the last to board the aircraft, and while airlines are starting to finally add enough bin space for all carry-on bags on their revamped planes, it is still not a perfect system. JetBlue acknowledged that in its press release, stating that “while many of JetBlue’s aircraft are outfitted with larger overhead bins to accommodate more customers, in the event of space constraints, customers may be required to check carry-on bags at the gate for no additional charge.”

When the change goes into effect, United Airlines will be the only major U.S. carrier that doesn’t allow for a full-size carry-on bag for basic economy travelers, free of charge.

Bailey Berg is a freelance travel writer and editor, who covers breaking news, trends, tips, transportation, sustainability, the outdoors, and more. She was formerly the associate travel news editor at Afar. Her work can also be found in the New York Times, the Washington Post, National Geographic, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, the Points Guy, Atlas Obscura, Vice, Thrillist, Men’s Journal, Architectural Digest, Forbes, Lonely Planet, and beyond.
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