When the pandemic first started, JetBlue Airways became the first U.S. carrier to scrap change and cancellation fees in February 2020.
Fast forward three years later, and the New York-based carrier is clawing back some of the flexibility that travelers have enjoyed when making modifications to their flights — without providing any notice.
As of March 8, all newly issued JetBlue credits will only be valid for one year from the date of your original booking.
Previously, when making changes or cancellations to JetBlue flights, you’d receive a credit to your so-called Travel Bank that could be used within one year of the date you made the modification.
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For example, say you book a regular “Blue” economy ticket with JetBlue on April 1, 2023, for travel on Dec. 23, 2023. If you decide to change or cancel your ticket in the days leading up to Christmas, you’ll still receive a credit for the full value of your ticket, but it will only be valid through April 1, 2024.
Historically, the credit would’ve been valid for an entire year from the date you canceled.
As you can see, this is a notable devaluation to JetBlue’s travel credit policy, especially for those who like to lock in their tickets far in advance.
But what stings perhaps even more than the devaluation itself is the way in which JetBlue made the change. The carrier loaded the policy update to its website without giving travelers a heads-up or providing a window in which to take advantage of the old, more generous policy.
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Perhaps it’s just a coincidence, but JetBlue chose to make the policy adjustment on the same day that it announced its much-anticipated New York-to-Paris transatlantic route. Tuesday also happened to be the day that the Department of Justice formally filed its lawsuit against JetBlue’s proposed merger with Spirit Airlines.
Maybe the airline thought it wouldn’t draw much attention if it made the adjustment on a busy news day. For its part, JetBlue defended the move by saying that “customers are welcome to use these funds to book any available JetBlue flight for sale, with our schedule always extending at least 331 days, as long as travel is booked prior to the Travel Bank expiration.”
However, the ability to book travel beyond the expiration date of your JetBlue credit has long been the airline’s policy, so there’s no real way to sugarcoat this devaluation.
All JetBlue fares can be changed or canceled without any fees, except for the airline’s Blue Basic fares. These basic economy tickets can be modified for $100 for travel within North America, Central America or the Caribbean, or $200 for all other routes, before paying any applicable fare difference.
Though JetBlue’s policy change will no doubt be frustrating to loyal flyers, the airline’s revised travel credit expiration policy now closely matches that of its major competitors.
Travel credits on American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines all generally expire within one year of the original booking date.