Some JetBlue passengers will face $65 fee for trying to bring a carry-on bag

Feb 26, 2021

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JetBlue recently overhauled its fare structure, giving many flyers added flexibility.

As part of the update, the New York-based carrier eliminated change and cancellation fees for all tickets, except for those booked in basic economy, which will soon carry a $100 (or $200) change fee, depending on the destination.

But, the news came with a major catch: starting on July 20, Blue Basic flyers can no longer bring a full-size carry-on bag. (One personal item like a briefcase or backpack will still be allowed.)

When traveling on a basic economy fare, all bags will need to be checked, at $35 for the first, $45 for the second and $150 for the third or more. You can receive a $5 per bag discount by pre-paying during online check-in.

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But, what happens if you show up at the gate with a full-size carry-on? Well, you’re going to pay up.

JetBlue just quietly added a steep penalty for those who might attempt to skirt the rules. The gate-check fee will vary depending on how many total bags you’ve already checked, per the chart below:

Number of bags checked before security Gate-check fee
0 $65
1 $65
2 $180

As you see, the gate-check fee is $20 to $30 more than checking your bag at the counter. A carrier spokesperson confirmed these changes and told TPG that this new fee is meant to ensure compliance.

Related: Complete details of JetBlue’s overhauled fare structure

Theoretically, basic economy flyers could check in online, print their boarding pass and head straight to the gate with a full-size carry-on. Of course, that’s skirting the rules, and by adding the new gate-check fee, JetBlue is incentivizing travelers to check their bags pre-security. The fee should also help speed up the boarding process by reducing the number of gate-checked bags.

Select customers are allowed to bring a full-size carry-on bag with a Blue Basic ticket, as follows:

  • Mosaic elite members
  • Basic economy passengers who’ve upgraded to an extra-legroom Even More Space seat
  • Active military members
  • Unaccompanied minors

If you don’t qualify for one of the four exceptions, then be sure to follow the rules, or prepare to pay up at the gate.

Related: Winners and losers from JetBlue’s overhauled fare structure

When announcing the new basic economy restrictions, JetBlue president and chief commercial officer Joanna Geraghty explained the move as a way to better compete with budget carriers, like Spirit and Frontier.

Geraghty wrote in an internal memo that “even though our current Blue Basic gives more bang-for-your-buck than ultra-low-cost carriers, many travelers still choose stripped-down, a la carte offerings if the competitors’ fare is slightly cheaper.”

Well, with the new gate-check fee, JetBlue’s basic economy bag policies are nearly identical to Spirit’s, which similarly charges a penalty for checking your carry-on bag at the gate.

Of course, JetBlue’s onboard experience is still significantly more comfortable than its budget competitors. With free Wi-Fi, live TV, power outlets and reclining seats, you might forget about all the restrictions once you’ve boarded the plane.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy

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