Ten Things Families Should Know When Flying JetBlue
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Some airlines just have more family-friendly policies and attitudes in their DNA than others, and JetBlue is one of those airlines that meets the needs (and wants) of traveling families more than most. Living north of Houston, I don't get to fly them anywhere nearly as much as I would like, but when I lived in New York City, they were my go-to airline a number of times. Even though it likely won't be convenient since they only have two routes out of Houston Hobby, I am determined to fly one of their flights in the near-ish term to again experience JetBlue firsthand. Until then, here are ten things families should know when flying JetBlue.
Free, free, free onboard entertainment
JetBlue is the hands-down winner when it comes to free onboard entertainment with free DIRECTV and free gate-to-gate standard WiFi. If I purchased DIRECTV and WiFi for my family of four on a United flight, it would cost me north of $50 per segment, so we often skimp on who gets what on any given flight. On JetBlue, you don't have to worry about forcing your kids to all share one screen and split the earbuds as everyone gets free TV. Not only that, but the channels include some family favorites like Disney and Cartoon Network.
Since no electronic system is perfect or 100% reliable, I recommend still coming prepared with your own entertainment, but free is my very favorite price for onboard family entertainment.
Free snacks and drinks
Let's stay with the free theme for a minute and emphasize that JetBlue provides not just only small, sad bags of free nuts or pretzels, but free actually good snacks like chocolate chip cookies, TERRA potato chips, and the crowd favorite Cheez-it crackers. They also have free drinks including kid-pleasers like cranberry juice and apple juice.
More legroom than the others
When you think about extra legroom, the concerns of taller than average people probably come to mind first, but I have found it is actually toddlers in car seats who need extra legroom more than anyone else as the car seat puts their tiny little legs extremely close to the seat in front of them...and you know what can happen next.
JetBlue offers 32 - 33 inches of pitch for your legs in their standard seats with 18 inches of seat width. Just how big is that? Well, American now has as little as 30 inches of pitch between you and the seat and front of you on some aircraft, and Spirit goes down to 28 inches with as little as 15.5 inches of width...which is in no way enough space for virtually any car seat.
No lap infant fees on JetBlue
If you fly with your little one under two-years-old in your lap, you will be thrilled to learn that JetBlue is one of the very small number of airlines that do not charge any lap infant fees. This is standard practice on domestic flights for all US airlines, but even when traveling to JetBlue's many international destinations, they do not hit you with a 10% fee for your lap infants like most other airlines would. All you pay are the international taxes for your baby with JetBlue.
While we are discussing lap infants, know that a lap infant on JetBlue is allowed one diaper bag, one stroller, and one car seat.
You can pool your JetBlue points with Family Pooling
JetBlue is the only US airlines that allows you to pool your points together with your kids 100% for free
Via their Family Pooling, up to two adults and five children up to age 21 can share points with each other for no charge. This really is huge. Can you imagine how amazing it would be if airlines like United and American allowed this?!
Families board early...ish
From what I understand, JetBlue allows young families to board after those with disabilities, military members, Mosaic status elites, and the A group. This is better than not offering early family boarding, but if you need to get onboard early to install a car seat without being in the way, I don't think that is early enough in the process to make a huge difference. If I were to ding JetBlue somewhere on the family-friendly scale, it would be here as early family boarding needs to truly be early to make a measurable difference.
The JetBlue credit card really helps
If your family travels on JetBlue with any sort of frequency, you really should get the JetBlue Plus Card as it gives the first checked bag free to the cardholder and up to three others on the same itinerary. It also gives you 10% of your redeemed points back and 50% off in-flight food and beverages...just in case the free snacks and drinks aren't enough for you.
JetBlue True Blue Points don't expire
Families that don't fly very frequently will love that JetBlue points do not expire, ever. This is extremely rare in the airline industry these days, and it is a true benefit to families who may not fly very frequently but don't want their points to go to waste.
Free seat assignments and no basic economy fares
While the future is anyone's guess, as of right now JetBlue does not offer basic economy fares and you can get complimentary seat assignments. To me, this is even better for families than the Southwest approach that also doesn't offer basic economy fares, but you don't know where you are sitting until you board and claim your spots.
Transfer in some JetBlue points
If you need some additional points to book the JetBlue flight you want, you can transfer your Amex Membership Rewards points or Citi ThankYou points to JetBlue. The normal ratio for a transfer via Membership Rewards is 250 Amex points = 200 JetBlue points. The regular transfer ratio from Citi ThankYou is 1,000 ThankYou points = 800 JetBlue points, however, there are periodic transfer bonuses that make the rate a little better than 1:1. Citi ThankYou is currently running a 30% bonus on JetBlue transfers which makes the ratio 1,000 ThankYou points = 1,040 TrueBlue points until May 19, 2018.
What JetBlue could do better for points-loving families
To be 100% clear, despite not flying JetBlue frequently myself, I think JetBlue is one of the best US airlines when it comes to family-friendly policies and attitudes. However, everyone can improve, and here are a few areas where JetBlue isn't a perfect match for points-loving families.
- There are no free checked bags without the JetBlue Plus credit card or Mosaic status. In this category, Southwest is the true winner.
- Family boarding isn't as early in the boarding process as with United.
- Their limited network means JetBlue doesn't offer great routings for many families...please introduce a Houston - Ft. Lauderdale route so we can connect to JetBlue Caribbean flights.
- Their Northeast-heavy network can be plagued with delays, which is really not good for families with little kids who don't need to be stuck on a plane or in an airport longer than necessary. In January 2018, they had the worst on-time arrival rate of any US airline at just 65.8% on-time stats compared to the national average of 79.6%.
- The JetBlue TrueBlue points system is great in that it is simple and straight-forward with the points often worth around 1.5 cents each towards their regular seats with no blackout dates. However, it also isn't very exciting since their amazing Mint seats are typically only offered at an inferior redemption rate compared to standard seats and traveling at peak times such as school breaks will often cost more points since the points rate is tied to the cash price.
Despite those areas for improvement, I think JetBlue is very hard to beat for a solid family travel experience. If your families utilize the JetBlue network to get where you want to be, I'd love to hear about your tips, experiences, and impressions!