JetBlue is well-known for having the most legroom in coach of any US airline. The airline also introduced the concept of live TV at every seat and continues to be the only US airline to have such in-flight entertainment on all of its flights. For these reasons, JetBlue is often near the top of US airline rankings.
Tips for Traveling on JetBlue
From the booking process to the in-flight experience, here’s a step-by-step guide on what to expect when flying JetBlue.
What to Know Before You Book with JetBlue
Not really a legacy carrier and not really a low-cost carrier anymore, JetBlue is one of those unique airlines that operates much like a low-cost airline, but still offers service and amenities that are on par or better than the major airlines like American, Delta, and United.
Although not as large as the major carriers, JetBlue has a strong flight network in the eastern U.S. and the Caribbean, with a few flights to Mexico and Central/South America. JetBlue has partnered with some international carriers, such as Aer Lingus, Azul, Icelandair, Emirates, and TAP Air Portugal, in order to offer connections to far away international destinations.
JetBlue has three main hubs in Boston (BOS), New York (JFK), and Fort Lauderdale (FLL), with focus cities in Long Beach (LGB), Orlando (MCO), and San Juan (SJU). It has maintained a strategy of focusing primarily on point-to-point routes. Connecting passengers through its main hubs on the east coast works well for flights from the Northeast to the Caribbean, but flying within the western half of the US is not very practical on JetBlue unless you are traveling nonstop to/from Long Beach.
Update November 2019: JetBlue has introduced a Basic Economy fare called "Blue Basic". These new fares will still include a standard carry-on bag plus a personal item, but there are restrictions on boarding order, seating, and change/cancelation flexibility. Click here for more details on JetBlue's new fare structure.
One thing JetBlue passengers never have to worry about is being bumped due to an oversold flight. JetBlue only sells tickets for as many seats that are actually on each flight. While this seems logical, most other airlines overbook flights due to the expectation that there will be “no-shows”. Since JetBlue does not overbook, there will never be an involuntary denied boarding situation on a JetBlue flight.
Another fantastic perk with JetBlue is a frequent flyer program that allows you to pool your points with anyone. Some airlines allow you to pool points with a family member, but JetBlue's new policy gives you the opportunity to pool points with friends, roommates, even strangers. And anyone will be able to use the combined points as long as the group leader grants them access.
How to Book a Flight with JetBlue
There aren’t any real tricks when booking a JetBlue flight. You’ll find JetBlue flights on all of the major third-party booking sites like Orbitz and Priceline, but JetBlue dropped its fares from a number of smaller online travel agencies. Most notably Vayama.com and SmartFares.com. JetBlue has a great flexible date search tool on its website dubbed the Best Fare Finder, where you can search for the lowest fare on a monthly calendar, but it’s always a good idea to compare prices with other airlines on multiple sites.
JetBlue has periodic flash fare sales with specific flights dropping as low as $20 one-way. These flash sales have become more regular lately, but they are very limited in that the price is only available on one specific flight on one specific date. Nonetheless, it’s a great opportunity for a cheap getaway that you can combine with another low fare on JetBlue or another airline for a roundtrip flight. JetBlue also has some decent two or three-day sales that pop-up on occasion. To find out about price drops, sign up for fare alerts.
When booking a JetBlue flight, you’ll be given three economy fare options to choose from. The Blue fare is JetBlue’s standard fare, which includes carry-on bags, but your first checked bag will cost an additional $30 each way. Blue Plus fares include one checked bag and may be less of a price difference than paying a checked bag fee on the lower Blue fare. Blue Flex fares include two free checked bags and have no change fees.
After choosing your fare, you’ll be given the option to pay for an Even More Space seat, which has slightly more legroom, though, with ample leg room in standard seats, I don’t find this to be worth it. It does also come with early boarding and a fast lane for expedited security screening at certain airports. The fast lane at security can also be purchased separately as an Even More Speed add-on.
After booking, you’ll have 24 hours to confirm your plans and cancel for free if you come to the conclusion that you no longer want to take the flight you purchased. This risk-free cancelation policy is only available if your departure is at least 7 days away. In order to have this option on last-minute ticketing within one week of travel, you’ll need to purchase through a third-party website such as Expedia or Priceline.
Check-In for a JetBlue Flight
You can check-in for your JetBlue flight online starting 24 hours prior to departure. Online check-in ends 40 minutes before departure for domestic travel and 60 minutes prior for international travel. You may also check-in from an airport kiosk or with an agent at the airport. You must be checked-in for your flight at least 20 minutes before departure for domestic travel (30 min. prior from FLL, JFK, and TPA) and 60 minutes prior for international travel.
If you have checked bags, the minimum required check-in time is 30 minutes prior to departure for domestic travel (40 min. from FLL, JFK, and TPA) and the same 60 minutes prior for international travel. JetBlue also has mobile check-in, where you can receive a boarding pass on your mobile device depending on your departure city and destination.
Boarding and the JetBlue Inflight Experience
JetBlue’s boarding process starts with pre-boarding for passengers requiring special assistance, then Mosiac elite and Mint passengers followed by Even More Space passengers and courtesy boarding for active military and passengers with small children. Everyone else is then boarded by group, which is determined by a number of factors for staggered boarding.
Once onboard, you’ll enjoy some of the best service in the industry. The average seat pitch for a standard seat is 32-33” and is the most of any US airline. JetBlue offers unlimited complimentary snacks and soft drinks. After the cart service passes by, the flight attendants set up a self-serve station in the galleys where customers can grab a snack or drink at any time throughout the flight. There are also premium drinks and snack boxes available for purchase.
One of the best perks of flying JetBlue is the entertainment options. Each seat has a seatback TV with live television and Sirius XM radio on every flight. In addition, JetBlue offers free Wi-Fi on every plane, which is an advantage over other airlines that charge for this service. As with any internet connection in the sky, service is spotty and slow. Your connection will probably go in and out throughout the flight, but this is a great way to catch up on emails or stay connected with friends and family on the ground.
For those that like to fly in style, JetBlue’s MINT class is available on select Caribbean and coast to coast routes. This cabin features lie-flat seats and premium meal service along with all the other perks you’d expect from a Business Class product. Introduced in 2014, JetBlue’s MINT class has shaken up the competitive Business Class market by offering historically low fares. Usually, an advanced purchase of one month is required to get the lowest MINT class fares. It’s a well-reviewed service and is continually being expanded to more routes.
I’ve flown JetBlue often and I always find it to be a pleasant experience. Although not always the lowest price on any given route, you may want to consider paying a little more money to fly JetBlue if you value entertainment options and don’t like to be nickel and dimed, since JetBlue includes most of its amenities in the price you pay for your ticket.
Header image by EQRoy via Shutterstock.