10 tips for flying JetBlue with kids
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If you’re considering flying JetBlue for your next family vacation, it’s a great choice. Last year, JetBlue snagged the No. 1 spot overall in the TPG Best Airlines for Families Report because of its complimentary points pooling and excellent onboard experience, including spacious seats, unlimited kid-friendly snacks and DirectTV (yes, your kids can watch the Cartoon Network and Disney Channel while 35,000 feet in the air).
Even if you fly with a great airline, you can always make your flying experience better if you are properly prepared. To help you have a great trip with JetBlue, consider these 10 tips before traveling with your little ones:
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Be sure you have a seat assignment
JetBlue makes it easy for families to sit together. Most of the rows are standard rows that don’t cost extra, although they recently added Basic Economy tickets that do not include complimentary seat assignments. As long as you purchase anything but a “Blue Basic” fare, you’ll be able to pick a seat for all passengers in your party at the time of booking for no fee. Also, if you use your JetBlue TrueBlue points there are no basic fare options, meaning all reservations automatically include complimentary advance seat selection.
Tip: JetBlue flights can fill up quickly, so choose seats together well ahead of time. Fixing seat assignment issues on the day of travel can be challenging, so do not delay on selecting your seats.
Pack headphones and charge your devices
JetBlue has complimentary DirecTV, movies and Fly-Fi internet, but the airline headphones required to listen to the inflight entertainment are not free — they will set you back $5 apiece if you purchase them on board. You can purchase my kids’ favorite headphones on Amazon for not much more than that. Just remember to tuck them into your child’s carry-on.
Also, don’t forget to charge your devices before leaving for the airport. Power outlets are not available at all seats on all aircraft (though the airline is working on that). Our recent 3.5-hour flight from New York-JFK to Houston was on a JetBlue A320 with no in-seat power. It’s also wise to prepare for the worst: the seat-back screens may be broken or the Wi-Fi could be down (which happened on our flight). Load up shows and movies on your kids’ tablets before you board or pack alternative activities.
Related: Best travel gear for kids
Take the kids to play in New York-JFK’s Terminal 5
This won’t help you on all JetBlue flights, but I love that JetBlue has a small playground near Gate 12 in New York-JFK’s Terminal 5. This is the perfect way to spend 15 minutes or so before boarding. Let your little ones run, play and climb (read: burn off energy) before they have to sit still for hours on the plane.
Board after Group A
JetBlue’s family boarding process isn’t my favorite since it doesn’t let families with bulky gear on first. The airline does, however, allow passengers with young kids traveling in car seats or strollers to board immediately after Group A. If you fall into that category, be ready to go and get settled before the other boarding groups. All other passengers will need to board with their respective boarding groups. If you want to make sure to be the first on board, Mosaic elite customers are the second group to board, right after customers with disabilities.
Don’t waste space on snacks
JetBlue provides passengers with unlimited complimentary snacks, so unless your child is a picky eater or has specific dietary restrictions, I would not waste time or money packing snacks for a JetBlue flight. Instead, I’d get ready to enjoy the free cranberry, orange or apple juices, the popcorn chips, animal crackers, the airline’s iconic Terra blue potato chips and more.
Pool your JetBlue miles
JetBlue lets families pool miles for free, so sign your kids up for a JetBlue TrueBlue account and accumulate your family’s miles in a single account so you can book award travel faster.
You will need a unique email address for your kids when signing them up for TrueBlue. If they don’t have their own email account yet, they can use your Gmail account by adding a + and their name to the end. (i.e., firstname.lastname@example.org becomes email@example.com — and the message then appears in my inbox as usual.)
For the purpose of pooling miles, families can include up to two adults and five children, so make sure everyone has a TrueBlue account.
Skip the extra legroom
Unless you really need the extra space, I’d skip upgrading to JetBlue’s Even More Legroom seats, since the standard seats have plenty of legroom for most families. JetBlue offers the most legroom in economy, so the seats will feel downright roomy compared to a flight on Spirit or Frontier.
Note that on JetBlue aircraft, row 1 is an Even More Space seat at the bulkhead. That might sound appealing to families since you’ll have plenty of room at your feet. However, we got some advice from JetBlue’s Captain Gary in regard to this row.
According to the captain, the armrests in row 1 are fixed and do not raise up. “The child cannot lay across or lean on the parent with that in the way,” he says. “It is very awkward, especially if you have a lap baby.”
He also cautions that since it’s a bulkhead row, there’s no under-seat storage so you need to store everything in the overhead during takeoff and landing — a big proposition if you’re traveling with all sorts of things to keep the kids entertained.
And finally, row 1 is near the forward galley and the main boarding door, so it can get chilly in that row during flight. Just a few things to think about before selecting a row 1 Even More Space seat for your family.
Tip: If you have JetBlue Mosaic elite status, ask the gate agent to see if there are any complimentary upgrade seats available.
Save more with the JetBlue Card
Families who regularly fly JetBlue should consider the JetBlue Plus Card, as it provides complimentary checked bags for you and up to three others on the same reservation when booking JetBlue fares with the card; 50% off eligible inflight purchases on cocktails and food, and returns 10% of your redeemed JetBlue points to your TrueBlue account. You’ll also receive a 5,000-point bonus on your card anniversary each year. TPG currently values JetBlue miles at 1.3 cents each. The information for the JetBlue Plus card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Watch for JetBlue flash sales
If you want to get away for as few points or dollars as possible, keep your radar tuned to JetBlue flash sales. These flash sales are sometimes for specific travel dates and times, but the prices can be as low as a few hundred points for a flight, or cash fares starting at approximately $20 one-way. For example, I’ve seen a flight from New York-JFK to Liberia, Costa Rica (LIR), for just 300 TrueBlue points, plus taxes.
Transferring points to TrueBlue can be done instantaneously through Chase Ultimate Rewards, the Citi ThankYou program and the Amex Membership Rewards program — sometimes even at an improved ratio, thanks to transfer bonuses.
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Shop Amazon in the sky for 3x TrueBlue points
You can no longer earn JetBlue TrueBlue points for Amazon purchases made on the ground, but you can still earn 3 TrueBlue points per eligible dollar spent when you shop on a JetBlue flight using the free inflight Fly-Fi. Log into Fly-Fi using the name and email associated with your JetBlue TrueBlue account, then head to Amazon to shop and earn points (not valid when using the Amazon mobile app).
Do you have any tips for flying JetBlue with kids? Sound off in the comments below.
Featured image courtesy of Zach Griff/The Points Guy
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