Zach Griff - Feb 26, 2021 - ThePointsGuy.com
JetBlue recently overhauled its fare structure, giving many flyers added flexibility.
As part of the update, the New York-based carrier eliminated change and cancellation fees for all tickets, except for those booked in basic economy, which will soon carry a $100 (or $200) change fee, depending on the destination.
But, the news came with a major catch: starting on July 20, Blue Basic flyers can no longer bring a full-size carry-on bag. (One personal item like a briefcase or backpack will still be allowed.)
When traveling on a basic economy fare, all bags will need to be checked, at $35 for the first, $45 for the second and $150 for the third or more. You can receive a $5 per bag discount by pre-paying during online check-in.
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But, what happens if you show up at the gate with a full-size carry-on? Well, you’re going to pay up.
JetBlue just quietly added a steep penalty for those who might attempt to skirt the rules. The gate-check fee will vary depending on how many total bags you’ve already checked, per the chart below:
|Number of bags checked before security||Gate-check fee|
As you see, the gate-check fee is $20 to $30 more than checking your bag at the counter. A carrier spokesperson confirmed these changes and told TPG that this new fee is meant to ensure compliance.
Theoretically, basic economy flyers could check in online, print their boarding pass and head straight to the gate with a full-size carry-on. Of course, that’s skirting the rules, and by adding the new gate-check fee, JetBlue is incentivizing travelers to check their bags pre-security. The fee should also help speed up the boarding process by reducing the number of gate-checked bags.
Select customers are allowed to bring a full-size carry-on bag with a Blue Basic ticket, as follows:
- Mosaic elite members
- Basic economy passengers who’ve upgraded to an extra-legroom Even More Space seat
- Active military members
- Unaccompanied minors
If you don’t qualify for one of the four exceptions, then be sure to follow the rules, or prepare to pay up at the gate.
When announcing the new basic economy restrictions, JetBlue president and chief commercial officer Joanna Geraghty explained the move as a way to better compete with budget carriers, like Spirit and Frontier.
Geraghty wrote in an internal memo that “even though our current Blue Basic gives more bang-for-your-buck than ultra-low-cost carriers, many travelers still choose stripped-down, a la carte offerings if the competitors’ fare is slightly cheaper.”
Well, with the new gate-check fee, JetBlue’s basic economy bag policies are nearly identical to Spirit’s, which similarly charges a penalty for checking your carry-on bag at the gate.
Of course, JetBlue’s onboard experience is still significantly more comfortable than its budget competitors. With free Wi-Fi, live TV, power outlets and reclining seats, you might forget about all the restrictions once you’ve boarded the plane.
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