‘Tis the season for changes to flight change fees, it would seem, and JetBlue got in on the action this week. Yes, the change fees went up 50% ($50->$75 for cheap fares and $100->$150 for more expensive tickets) but the news isn’t all bad. There is now a tiered fee schedule for flight changes which is arguably more fair than most airlines (short of not charging any fees). And, for their Mosaic members the new rules are even more generous – no more fees.
For regular customers there is now a 60 day cut-off point where the fees change in price. Here’s what the schedule looks like now:
For customers who fly JetBlue enough to rate the Mosaic badge elite status, the changes are even better. No fees at all. Ever. Even if you cancel the ticket for a full
Beginning with bookings made on May 17, 2013, Members with a valid TrueBlue Mosaic badge will not pay the applicable JetBlue change/cancellation fee when they change or cancel their JetBlue flight or JetBlue Getaways vacation reservation by calling JetBlue. The change/cancel fee will also be waived for any traveler on the same reservation as the Mosaic member…. Mosaic members must call JetBlue to change or cancel their reservation in order to receive the fee waiver benefit; any change or cancellation made online will not qualify for this benefit.
This new policy
is a step up from matches that of Alaska Airlines, the other carrier with a published policy of fee waivers for top elites. In the Alaska Airlines case it is only a waiver of change fees, not for canceling a trip, too. Even Southwest won’t refund tickets (just no change fee). JetBlue has essentially made every ticket fully refundable for their top elites. That’s huge.
JetBlue continues to respect that change fees more than the fare itself are silly, so that’s a good thing. And the 60-day split is likely a more accurate reflection of the resale challenges of that same space, made a bit more challenging because JetBlue doesn’t overbook as a matter of policy. But the biggest winners here – by far – are the Mosaic members. No more fees ever makes it incredibly easy to justify buying more of their tickets on JetBlue more often.
Also, there is still the free repricing of the same flight for a credit if the fare goes down which is available to all customers.
- Delta joins the party with $200 change fees
- United raises change fees in domestic markets
- Flying JetBlue? Always remember to check for sales, even after booking!
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Wow… That would have saved me $600 this year I paid UA in change fees.
Oh my gosh… someone finally does change fees the way they should be done.
Is B6 w/ Mosaic going to be a credit for future flight or actual refund to original form of payment? Alaska MVPG is credit good for 1 year from initial purchase.
I read the JetBlue one as a refund (“cancel fee will be waived”) but I might be getting that wrong. I thought the Alaska option was somewhat more limited. I’ll see what I can confirm.
A cancellation with a nonrefundable fare doesn’t go back to the original form of payment – only to a jetblue travel credit that’s good for a year.
Their new fee structure, though, actually makes sense, in that it’s more costly to them (less chance of reselling the seat) if you change your flight closer in.
No hat tip for Alaska? 😛
I mentioned the AS program in there. :p
And I did get a second confirmation that it is back to the travelbank, not a full refund. Still quite flexible.
When I suggested this approach a month or so ago to you, I thought you said it was too confusing for the public and couldn’t be done. 😉
Glad to see it moving in this direction. I doubt the majors will take notice, though. I still think the >60-days-out fee is too high–the chances of reselling that seat 60 days out are very, very high–the fee should really be more of an administrative fee like $25 than a penalty fee of $75. But I’ll take what I can get and hope UA comes to their senses for top elites. (I’d shoot for 1K again this year if they did a change-fee waiver; otherwise, I think I’m going to settle for Plat.)
Also, Alaska allows the change/cancellation to be done online. Sounds like JetBlue hasn’t got it programmed in, thus the requirement to call in (likely so the agent can manually waive the fee). Maybe that will come in the future, but for now, AS’s policy is slightly superior to B6’s for that reason.
I still think it is more complicated and will confuse the customer; doesn’t mean it isn’t necessarily good.
Yes, AS does it online while B6 is phone-only (for now). On the flip side, qualifying with B6 could be easier than on AS unless you’re big in to mileage runs, I think. Both are solid benefits packages and the two don’t have a lot of overlap in customers/routes. I’m sure they can both do just fine with this approach.
ZERO advance notice? That’s unreasonably harsh IMHO.
Also, reservations booked prior to the change should get unlimited changes under the old fee structure. Offering a one-time exception still retroactively changes the terms of the customer’s original deal. I understand the difficulties of implementing unlimited changes for existing funds, but fair is fair. Advance notice of the new fees would have mitigated this particular problem.
Now a question: What about points bookings? If those remain fully refundable to your account, then points have become much more valuable than cash when booking for non-elite travelers. True?
Tickets booked under the old rules still have the old rules for the first change. At that point it seems that they are suggesting the ticket has been reissued and then the new rules apply.
Honestly, if you’re changing a ticket multiple times then you’re probably doing it wrong anyways. And it really isn’t all that surprising that they simply make the change effective on the day it happens.
My recollection is that points bookings officially are not fully refundable anyways, at least not without a fee.
Overall I think this week’s changes are a big win for Mosaic customers and mostly a win for others. The number of people who lost with this switch is very small.
Yes, Seth, you’re right. Awards cost $100 to cancel and redeposit. Therefore points are now slightly more valuable than cash when booking for non-elite travelers when the cash fares is $150 or more.
I rarely look at the change fee when determining the value of the points versus cash for a purchase unless it is truly a speculative booking.
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