JetBlue is getting rid of ticket-change fees but banning overhead bin access for the cheapest tickets

  • JetBlue's president and COO says the airline wants to lower its cheapest fares.
  • Travelers on JetBlue's no-frills basic economy tickets will be prohibited from using overhead bins.
  • Airline executives have repeatedly said they offer no-frills fares they hope travelers will avoid in favor of standard economy.

JetBlue Airways is getting rid of ticket-change fees for most of its tickets, but travelers who are buying its cheapest fares should pack light.

The New York-based airline on Tuesday said starting July 20 it will guarantee overhead bin space for its standard coach fares up to its Mint business class. But travelers who booked Blue Basic, the airline's cheapest option, won't be allowed to use overhead bin space, a policy United Airlines put in place when it started selling no-frills basic economy tickets in 2017.

If JetBlue can't make good on its promise it will give travelers a $25 credit. That's a relatively easy feat during the pandemic when few people are traveling but finding overhead bin space has been a "major pain point" for travelers during boarding, the carrier said.

Airline executives have said these no-frills options are meant to better compete with discount carriers Spirit Airlines and Frontier, which make a bulk of their revenue from add-on fees for bags and seat selection. They have also said, however, that they want many travelers to avoid these most restrictive fares and pay more for standard economy.

JetBlue says it wants to make those cheaper, restrictive fares cheaper.

"Currently, our Blue and Blue Basic offerings are very similar to each other," said JetBlue President and COO Joanna Geraghty in a note to staff. "We need to better differentiate the two by making Blue the gold standard, while strategically focusing on lowering the price of Blue Basic."

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