Skip to content

Persistence pays off: JetBlue and Spirit Airlines can suspend flights to 16 hub airports

May 05, 2020
5 min read
Persistence pays off: JetBlue and Spirit Airlines can suspend flights to 16 hub airports
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

JetBlue Airways and Spirit Airlines have proved that if at first one does not succeed, then try, try again. That strategy appears to have paid off for those airlines with U.S. officials, who granted their second requests to suspend flights to up to 16 hub airports across the country amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In separate decisions Tuesday, the Department of Transportation approved JetBlue's request to end flights to 16 hubs and Spirit's request to suspend service from six hubs through Sept. 30. Both airlines were obligated to serve the airports under the conditions of the payroll assistance that they accepted from the federal government's $2 trillion coronavirus aid package, the CARES Act.

Get Coronavirus travel updates. Stay on top of industry impacts, flight cancellations, and more.

The 16 affected airports are:

  • Atlanta (ATL) - JetBlue waiver; Delta Air Lines hub and Southwest Airlines base.
  • Charlotte (CLT) - JetBlue and Spirit waivers; American Airlines hub.
  • Chicago O'Hare (ORD) - JetBlue waiver; American and United Airlines hub.
  • Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) - JetBlue waiver; American hub.
  • Denver (DEN) - JetBlue and Spirit waiver; Frontier Airlines and United hub, and Southwest base.
  • Detroit (DTW) - JetBlue waiver; Delta hub.
  • Houston Bush Intercontinental (IAH) - JetBlue waiver; United hub.
  • Las Vegas (LAS) - JetBlue waiver; Southwest base.
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP) - JetBlue and Spirit waivers; Delta and Sun Country Airlines hub.
  • Nashville (BNA) - JetBlue waiver; Southwest base.
  • Philadelphia (PHL) - JetBlue waiver; American hub.
  • Phoenix (PHX) - JetBlue and Spirit waivers; American hub and Southwest base.
  • Portland, Oregon (PDX) - JetBlue and Spirit waivers; Alaska Airlines hub.
  • San Diego (SAN) - JetBlue waiver; Alaska focus city and Southwest base.
  • Seattle/Tacoma (SEA) - JetBlue and Spirit waivers; Alaska and Delta hub.
  • Tampa (TPA) - JetBlue waiver; Southwest base.

The suspensions are unlikely to impact many travelers. In May, JetBlue scheduled an average of 1.4 departures a day from the 16 cities where it received air service waivers, according to Cirium schedules. Spirit scheduled less than one departure a day from the six cities it will suspend.

In addition, few people are flying. The latest data from trade group Airlines for America (A4A) shows that there were an average of just 17 passengers on all U.S. domestic flights during the week ending April 28.

The waivers also mean JetBlue and Spirit do not have to operate some of the tag and circle routes that they had planned to fly as part of a creative way to meet the CARES Act requirements.

Both carriers allow travelers on cancelled flights to rebook, refund their tickets or receive vouchers towards future travel.

Related: JetBlue, Spirit cite precedent in asking DOT to suspend flights to 16 hubs

Sign up for our daily newsletter
JetBlue Airways Airbus A321 in Denver. (Image courtesy of Denver International Airport)
JetBlue can suspend service to Denver through September. (Image courtesy of Denver International Airport)

Every major U.S. airline except Southwest has sought a waiver from the CARES Act service requirements. Initially, the DOT rejected nearly all of the first waiver applications. Since then, however, the agency has proven flexible in granting flight suspensions. For example, it allowed American leeway on when to begin its seasonal summer service to Anchorage (ANC) and Nantucket (ACK), and it granted every waiver sought for secondary airports in Hawaii — Hilo (ITO), Kahului (OGG), Kona (KOA) and Lihue (LIH) — where there is a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all new arrivals.

Other airlines continue to serve all of the airports where waivers have been granted. Alaska continues to fly to Anchorage, and Cape Air continues to connect Nantucket to the U.S. mainland. Hawaiian Airlines and Southwest are operating limited inter-island schedules in Hawaii.

Airlines are preparing for a long, slow recovery. The consensus view among executives is around three years before passenger numbers return to 2019 levels. However, the expectation is that the industry will be around 30% smaller at the end of the year than it was last year.

Carriers are evaluating their route maps for cuts, and possible hub closures, though none have made any decisions. The CARES Act air service requirements sunset at the end of September.

Neither JetBlue nor Spirit have commented on their maps post-pandemic. Both are due to to discuss their first quarter results on Thursday (May 7).

Related: How will airlines rebuild their route maps after the coronavirus?

Featured image by (Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy)

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

TPG Exclusive Offer
TPG Exclusive Offer
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 5X points
5XGet 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
1.5XEarn 1.5X points on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year
1X1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.

Intro offer

Earn 150,000 points120,000 points
The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee

$695

Recommended Credit

670-850
Good, Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
Apply for The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
TPG Exclusive Offer
TPG Exclusive Offer
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

5XGet 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
1.5XEarn 1.5X points on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year
1X1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

    Earn 150,000 points
    120,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Good, Excellent

Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.