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JetBlue Adds Free Carry-On Bag to Basic Economy Fares

Passengers on the cheapest Basic Blue fares will no longer need to pay to travel with any bag larger than a personal item

by Lauren Smith

June 20, 2024

Photo: Courtesy of Erik Odiin / Unsplash

Starting September 6, passengers on JetBlue’s cheapest fare, Basic Blue, will no longer have to pay to travel with a carry-on bag, a change that will save bag-toting travelers between $35 and $50 per flight.

Currently, passengers with these basic economy tickets on most JetBlue flights are entitled only to bring a personal item, such as a small backpack, purse, or laptop case, aboard. Travelers who need more luggage must pay to check it, with fees currently between $35 and $50 for the first checked bag, depending on the season and when they purchased the add-on.

Alternatively, they can upgrade to a more expensive Blue fare with a complimentary carry-on.

Photo: Courtesy of Bambi Corro / Unsplash

The exception is on JetBlue’s roster of transatlantic flights, including those from the East Coast to London (LHR), Amsterdam (AMS), Paris (CDG), Dublin (DUB), and its newly launched link to Edinburgh (EDI). On these flights, Basic Blue fares include a complimentary carry-on bag but no checked item.

From this fall, Basic Blue travelers on all flights will be able to bring full-size carry-on bags and personal items for no additional charge.

The change will apply to all travelers from September 6, regardless of when they purchased their tickets.

Other restrictions on Basic Blue fares, including limited points earning, fees for flight changes, and restrictions on seat assignments, will remain.

Photo: Courtesy of JetBlue

Additionally, JetBlue acknowledges that there may not be enough room in the overhead bins on its planes for every passenger’s carry-on, meaning some Basic Blue passengers, who board the plane last, will need to check their bags at the gate.

“While many of JetBlue’s aircraft are outfitted with larger overhead bins to accommodate more customers, in the event of space constraints, customers may be required to check carry-on bags at the gate for no additional charge,” the airline said in a statement.

“Customers who want to board earlier to utilize overhead bin space will now find even more value in purchasing the more flexible Blue fare –JetBlue’s second lowest fare that comes with free advanced seat selection, no cancellation or change fees, and general boarding. Blue Basic customers remain the final group to board.”

JetBlue said it’s making the change to keep customers happy and remain competitive. Likely, the airline, which has struggled to find its market niche and posted substantial losses this year while the rest of the industry is booming, decided the revenue it was earning for those $65 bag fees wasn’t enough to offset customer frustration at nickel and diming.

“Carry-on bags are an important piece of travel to customers, and when presented with a choice between JetBlue’s award-winning service and another carrier’s basic offering, we want JetBlue to be the easy winner,” Marty St. George, president of the airline, said in a statement.

Photo: Courtesy of JetBlue

“We’re always looking for ways to evolve our offering in response to customer preferences. This is a win-win as we improve the customer experience and keep JetBlue competitive in our industry.”

The airline also highlighted the other perks it offers customers regardless of their fare, including free Wi-Fi, the most economy seat legroom of any U.S. airline, and complimentary drinks and snacks.

Among major U.S. airlines, only United will now charge for carry-on bags on its basic economy fares. Smaller budget carriers Spirit and Frontier also charge for carry-on bags on most tickets.

However, cash-strapped JetBlue isn’t giving handouts. The airline quietly hiked fees for checked luggage for some travelers on February 1. Customers who don’t confirm they have a checked bag at least 24 hours before departure will pay $45 and $60 for their first and second bags, respectively, fees $10 higher than the usual rates. Early birds will continue to pay $35 and $50.

Then, in March, JetBlue introduced peak and off-peak pricing for those bags checked within 24 hours of departure. Passengers flying during peak seasons, including over the summer (June 20 to September 3), Thanksgiving (November 21 to December 2), Christmas (December 19 to January 6), and three other periods during the year will pay elevated fees of $50 and $70 for their first and second checked bags, respectively.