JetBlue just launched a cheap new basic economy tier, called "Blue Basic." The new class of service will feature the lowest-price flights available from JetBlue, but it will come with fewer basic amenities that many passengers have come to expect from the airline.
JetBlue's change to its fare structure, rolled out on Tuesday, November 12, follows a years-long trend of major airlines — including the three largest U.S. carriers (American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines) — offering bare-bones services for low prices in order to compete with ultra low-cost carriers like Spirit and Frontier Airlines.
What's included with JetBlue Blue Basic tickets? The better question may be what's not included. JetBlue’s new class of service does not allow passengers to select seats in advance without paying an additional fee. Passengers flying in JetBlue Blue Basic will be able to select a seat 24 hours before the scheduled flight and bring a carry-on, but people with this fare will have to board the plane last. So space in overhead bins may be limited. Additionally, customers will not be able to change or cancel their tickets if they choose Blue Basic, and TrueBlue loyalty members will only earn one-third of the frequent-flyer points when traveling on Basic tickets.
Along with adding Blue Basic, the Blue Flex fare has been replaced by Blue Extra, while all other tiers remain the same for the time being, ThePointsGuy reported.
The carrier’s website appears to be updated to reflect all changes regarding the new categories of service. JetBlue's Baggage Information page shows that there are now, confusingly, four different "Blue" categories of service: Blue Basic, Blue, Blue Plus, and Blue Extra. Blue Plus allows passengers to check the first bag for free, while all of the other service classes charge the same for checked luggage ($30 for the first bag, $40 for the second).
JetBlue noted in their press release that all tiers will still have access to free snacks, WiFi, and DIRECTTV movies and TV shows, but it remains unclear how much less expensive JetBlue's Blue Basic tickets will be compared to the airline's other categories of service.
What we do know is that the New York-based airline is continuing to look more and more like any other major airline, moving away from its egalitarian philosophy that garnered cult-like support in the 2000s and early 2010s. JetBlue still boasts the most legroom in coach, but if you showed customers in 2013 today’s business model, they would probably be quite surprised to see first class seats and checked bags fees.
JetBlue expects the new basic economy level to increase revenue by $150 million in 2020. Flights from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to Nassau, Bahamas and New York’s JFK to Long Beach, California will be the first to include this new class of service, with the rest rolling out throughout the next two months.