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JetBlue May Lose The Most If Change Charges Go For Good – NerdWallet


Because the coronavirus leaves vacationers cautious of committing to flights, most airways have finished away with change charges — some briefly and some permanently.

JetBlue Airways was early to provoke the development, saying in February 2020 that each one flights booked throughout what was then a two-week window wouldn’t be topic to alter or cancellation charges (in fact, that window was prolonged long gone two weeks). Different airways adopted with their very own temporary cancellation and change fee waivers, which have since been prolonged … and prolonged.

However casting off change charges additionally means casting off a reasonably important income. Maybe unsurprisingly, the three largest U.S. airways (Delta Air Strains, American Airways and United Airways, collectively also known as “the large three”) collected probably the most total {dollars} in such charges: a mixed $2.2 billion.

But as a proportion of whole working income, it’s not the large three which have probably the most to lose from waiving change charges. It’s JetBlue. A NerdWallet evaluation of Bureau of Transportation Statistics information from 2017 by means of 2019 discovered that income from cancellation and alter charges accounts for a bigger chunk of JetBlue’s whole working income than some other main airline. (Particulars of the methodology may be discovered on the finish of this text.)

Most not too long ago in 2019, JetBlue collected almost $200 million in change and cancellation charges, comprising simply over 2.4% of its whole working income that yr.

What’s JetBlue’s change payment coverage?

Whereas JetBlue was a frontrunner in briefly eliminating change charges, it’s one of many few main airways that has not dedicated to eliminating them for good as American, Alaska, Delta and United did. JetBlue will waive change or cancellation charges for patrons with present bookings made by means of Feb. 28, 2021, although.

As of now, for journeys starting in March 2021 that should be modified or canceled, count on to pay as much as $200 in charges relying on the ticket you booked. Fares booked in Blue Additional class may be modified or canceled for no payment; you’ll simply should pay the fare distinction.

Alaska stands to lose probably the most cash relative to its measurement

Of all of the airways which have introduced everlasting change payment insurance policies, it’s Alaska that stands to lose probably the most. Alaska got here in not far behind JetBlue, with change and cancellation charges comprising 2.14% of its total working income between 2017 and 2019. Alaska introduced in September that it might completely drop change charges on all tickets apart from these booked with Alaska’s model of primary economic system, generally known as Saver fares.

American, which additionally dedicated to eliminating change charges on most tickets for home and short-haul worldwide flying (excluding primary economic system fares), took within the third-most income as a proportion of total working income, at 1.94%.

How a lot cash do airways make from change and cancellation charges?

Whereas JetBlue collects a great chunk of income in change and cancellation charges relative to its whole working income, it nonetheless collects a reasonably small quantity relative to different airways. American took within the third-most cash by way of change or cancellation charges as a p.c of its total working income between 2017 and 2019, but it surely took in probably the most cash total.

Right here’s how a lot whole cash the foremost airways collected total in change or cancellation charges in every of the previous three years:

In 2019 alone, the ten largest U.S. airways collected a mixed $2.8 billion by way of change and cancellation charges.

Why are airways eliminating change charges?

Whereas JetBlue’s pause on change charges is momentary, the stress is on throughout all airways to make it everlasting. The journey business can largely thank United for that, after it introduced in August that its temporary change fee policies would become permanent. The opposite two of the large three, American and Delta, rapidly adopted up with information that they too would be ending change fees. Different main airways, together with Alaska and Hawaiian Airways, have additionally completely ended change charges for many flights.

The dying of change charges is basically seen as a win for passengers who would possibly in any other case concern the potential of forking over lots of of {dollars} ought to they should reschedule their flight. These new insurance policies may also profit airways which are in any other case determined for income to promote tickets, as hesitant vacationers is likely to be inspired to click on “purchase” on a ticket they won’t in any other case be keen to decide to.

Whereas passenger air journey is slowly creeping again up because the begin of the pandemic, as evidenced by Transportation Safety Administration information on checkpoint journey numbers, it’s inconceivable to say whether or not waived change charges have made passengers extra inclined to journey by aircraft. There are tons of things at play, whether or not it’s new airline health policies leaving passengers extra snug with flying, deep reductions on airfare and hotel rooms compelling vacationers to make the most of offers, or cabin fever taking on as folks tire of staying at residence.

However a scarcity of change charges actually makes it simpler to e-book flights far into the long run, given the peace of thoughts you could get your a refund if stricter lockdown measures return or an infection charges rise.

The underside line

Whereas American Airways collected probably the most cash of all the foremost U.S. airways in cancellation and alter charges between 2017 and 2019, JetBlue stands to lose probably the most cash as a p.c of its total working income if it in the end follows within the footsteps of the large three and bids adieu to alter charges. Proper now, although, JetBlue’s no-change-fee coverage is barely momentary; the airline is about to carry again change charges on flights starting in March 2021, not less than for now.


We appeared on the 10 U.S. airways that collected probably the most income in change or cancellation charges in 2019, based mostly on publicly accessible information from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. We then assessed the typical change/cancellation payment income collected per quarter between 2017 and 2019 for every airline. With these numbers, we calculated the proportion of the airline’s total working income these charges accounted for, additionally based mostly on publicly accessible information from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

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