Update 3/11/20: JetBlue has expanded their change/cancellation fee waiver policy. Currently, all change and cancel fees for travel through 4/30/20 are waived, regardless of when you purchased your ticket (flights may be re-booked for travel until 10/24/20). Additionally, there are no change or cancel fees on new flights booked from 3/6/20 to 3/31/20 for travel until 9/8/20. To be clear, cancellations will receive a JetBlue credit that is good for a year from the date of booking (not a refund).
In a move that should get someone in the marketing department a big raise, JetBlue has announced that new tickets purchased from 2/27/20 until 3/11/20 for travel completed by 6/1/20 will incur no change or cancellation fees — even for Blue Basic fares (JetBlue’s equivalent of basic economy). To be clear, you won’t get a refund if you cancel — you’ll get a travel credit that is presumably good for a year from the date of booking and you’ll pay any fare difference. This is obviously in response to fears about booking travel in light of coronavirus and it is a brilliant move in my opinion. It is further useful for me as I need to book a flight on a route where JetBlue has a great price but I haven’t been fully willing to commit. I’ll be booking that tomorrow — contributing to Mr. or Ms. Marketing’s positive performance review.
Obviously, people are concerned about making travel arrangements in response to the current attitudes over the spread of COVID-19. There has been discussion about it in the comments of our posts over the past week and surely there have been discussion at the dinner table for many readers. I see the arguments of those who feel the hysteria is overblown, but I have noted that I’m personally taking a fairly conservative approach to my travel arrangements over the coming months, content to collect points for future trips and put most of my travel plans on hold until we see how things develop.
That said, I do need to book a couple of domestic flights for travel during the given window here and in one case the best deal by far is on JetBlue. I had been hesitant to lock in a paid flight too far in advance (and with cash prices being cheap, award tickets are unappealing). I’d normally look to Southwest in instances like this, but this move puts JetBlue on the table as an option for me (and one that I’ll likely book with the intention to use the credit on a different future trip I intend to make within the next year if my plans change on this). The timing is just right for me.
More broadly, I expect this will encourage people who were hesitant to buy tickets to go ahead and make plans and JetBlue is surely banking on many of those folks not wanting to cancel once they get excited about the trip. I’m sure this will indeed sell more tickets for them than they otherwise would have sold and chances are good that by the end of this window (late May), we will have hopefully avoided any major outbreak here.
But the fact that it’s good business for JetBlue obviously doesn’t make it bad for consumers — this appears to be a true win-win in my opinion and one that I’ll be happy to access.
H/T: View from the Wing