JetBlue's changes are (mostly) bad news for Mosaic elite customers
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The day has finally arrived. Today, JetBlue introduced its version of basic economy fares. Long rumored, these fares will help JetBlue better compete with the low-cost carriers.
It's almost always bad news when an airline begins selling basic-economy fares, since you'll now need to pay more for the same benefits that were previously included. The same story is (mostly) true for the carrier's elite Mosaic customers.
Nonrefundable and nonchangeable fares
The new Blue Basic fares are nonrefundable and nonchangeable. Typically, Mosaic elites are entitled to fee-free changes and cancellations on any JetBlue ticket. However, if a Mosaic member purchases a Blue Basic ticket, the customer is not eligible for any changes or cancellations.
As a Mosaic myself, I love booking with JetBlue for the added flexibility of being able to cancel or change my reservation without charge. Now, I'll need to purchase up to a Blue fare to be eligible for free changes and cancellations.
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The same is true for same-day changes and revenue standby. Since Blue Basic tickets don't allow you to do either, Mosaics purchasing the cheapest fare type will need to be locked into their schedule, even if they've booked months in advance.
Seat assignments come at a fee
Another restriction of the Blue Basic fares is the inability to assign seats in advance unless you pay a seat fee. Other JetBlue fares include free standard seats, and you can always buy-up to an extra-legroom Even More Space seat. With Blue Basic fares, you'll need to pay for the standard seats too.
With Blue Basic, Mosaics aren't entitled to free seat assignments. Even worse, you won't be able to redeem TrueBlue points for seat fees. The best use of TrueBlue points is almost always for an Even More Space seat, a feature reserved exclusively for Mosaic members. However, when purchasing a Blue Basic fare, a Mosaic member will need to purchase seats at the same cost as any other passenger.
Earning Mosaic status will be harder
The TrueBlue earning rates have also been adjusted for Blue Basic fares. With Blue Basic, you'll earn 1 Base Point for every eligible dollar you spend. Compared to the other JetBlue fares where you earn 3 Base Points for every eligible dollar you spend, this is an unwelcome change for Mosaic members.
Earning Mosaic status requires either 15,000 base points or 12,000 base points plus 30 flight segments in a calendar year. Now, a Mosaic purchasing Blue Basic fares will need to buy three times as much airfare to qualify for Mosaic status each year.
Amid all the other negative changes, one of the best shortcuts to earning Mosaic status hasn't been killed. If you spend $50,000 a year on the JetBlue Plus Card, you'll still earn Mosaic status without needing to step foot on a plane.
Checked and carry-on bags are still included
Amid all the bad news for Mosaics, there is one piece of good news. Mosaics and their travel companions on the same reservation are still eligible for two free checked bags per person on all fares, including Blue Basic.
Even if you don't check bags, you'll still be eligible to preboard in the Mosaic boarding queue when purchasing a Blue Basic fare. Preboarding will help ensure that there's room for your carry-on in the overhead compartment. Other Blue Basic passengers will need to board last, which almost certainly means that they'll need to gate check their carry-on bags.
JetBlue's introduction of basic economy is mostly bad news for Mosaics. The fares are nonrefundable and nonchangeable, and you'll need to purchase seat assignments even for the most basic seats. You'll earn many fewer TrueBlue points on a Blue Basic fare, making it even harder to earn Mosaic status. As consolation, checked and carry-on bags are still included for Mosaics purchasing Blue Basic fares.
Starting today, Mosaics will need to pay more for their flights to be eligible for the entire suite of elite benefits. There are no two ways about it — these changes are a big devaluation to the carrier's Mosaic members.
All photos by the author.