JetBlue Now Selling Refundable, Pricier Tickets

Low-cost carrier JetBlue is now selling refundable fares, with a catch: they’ll cost fifty to over a couple hundred bucks more. A nonrefundable adult ticket from Buffalo, NY to JFK on Valentine’s Day, returning on Monday, will cost $69. Wanna upgrade to refundable? That’ll be $299 total please. At that premium, the prospect of getting a refund hardly seems worth it for most travelers. For airfare nerds, the new fares will be designated class Y, fares previously designated Y will now be class E. The airline is promoting the refundable tickets by giving quadruple TrueBlue points for tickets bought before February 13.

Attention Frequent Flyers: JetBlue Airways Now Offers More Convenience and Flexibility With Refundable Fares [Press Release]
(Photo: crawfishpipe)

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  1. qwickone says:

    I think any premium that makes the refundable ticket more than 1.5x more than non-refundable doesn’t really make sense. In the example cited above, it’s more than quadrupled, which means people would be better off just taking the loss if they dont make the flight. But then again, people are dumb and regularly pay more for items packaged in a “value pack” rather than calculate the cost of buy individually…

  2. coan_net says:

    Cool – But I’m sure there will still be a monthly post on this site about how slimy the airlines are when they don’t refund unused non-refundable tickets.

  3. PolythenePam says:

    @qwickone: Exactly what I was going to say. Even if there is a good chance you are not going to make the flight it would still make more sense to just lose the $69.

  4. m4ximusprim3 says:

    So, basically, the only time it makes sense to buy them is when you feel you have a better than 75% chance of your flight being cancelled?

    If you’re sure enough to be the extra 230 bucks that the airline will cancel your flight 80% of the time, it’s time to find another airline.

  5. Tzepish says:

    So with the nonrefundable ticket, if you need a refund, you’re hosed out of $69… but with the refundable ticket, if you *don’t* need a refund, you’re hosed out of $230…

    Great deal!

  6. B says:

    Isn’t this standard procedure for most airlines, to charge more for refundable tickets?

  7. monkeyboy13 says:

    The example is a $69 fare, where you can rebuy the trip for another $69, so it makes no sence to buy refundable for $299, but, if I am buying a $1000 fare, and I am not sure if plans may change, paying and extra $100-$200 might not me a bad idea to know I can get a refund.

  8. nweaver says:

    Actually, I know some people who will love this:

    Government travel HAS to be on refundable tickets, by law. I know a coulpe of NSF people who’d love to fly JetBlue if they could get a fullly-refundible ticket.

  9. kepler11 says:

    you all are missing the point of refundable/changeable tickets. With non-refundable $69 tickets, you can’t do anything else with them. You take the flight, or you don’t and you lose your money.

    With the more expensive ticket, you can change the date, change your mind, you don’t have to be tied down to anything at all. It is a remarkable freedom, if you’ve never had a refundable ticket before.

    You are paying for that freedom of choice.

  10. chiieddy says:

    It’s also good for the business traveler who a) is getting a reimbursement anyhow and b) isn’t sure he or she won’t have to cancel the trip last minute. B is more common than you’d think.

  11. kepler11 says:

    the other thing to keep in mind is that if you change your mind and want to travel a different day on the $69 fare, it may no longer be available by the time you decide. So then, you are out $69, and have to buy the more expensive ticket anyway.

  12. discounteggroll says:

    damn, I thought I could get a refund after I had taken the flight.

    I knew the title was too good to be true xD

  13. 92BuickLeSabre says:

    Refundable Valentine’s Day ticket = sad.

  14. facted says:

    @kepler11: Don’t quite understand. With a NON-refundable ticket, if I need to change the date of my flight, or the time, or whatever, I simply pay (on Jetblue), a $40 change fee, and that’s it. I can fly anyday I choose. The refund aspect is nice if you never plan to use the ticket ever again…but if you the credit suits you just as well, then what’s the point?

  15. ceejeemcbeegee is not here says:

    @kepler11: Word. A $299 refundable ticket on JetBlue is equal to a non-refundable on any other airline. It’s worth it to have the flexibility, even if I think ALL tickets should be refundable in the first place.

  16. dcaslin says:

    This is definitely a play for the business traveler. It’s often easier to justify (to a company’s expense approval department) a $300 refundable ticket than it is to justify a $69 ticket that was used plus a canceled $69 ticket. The quadruple points are just an added bonus.

  17. ludwigk says:

    @kepler11: Indeed, it is you who is missing the point in this particular case.

    Standard Tickets: If my flight only costs $70, I can change the date, miss the flight, take a different one, and I end up paying a maximum of $140, assuming I change my mind, and buy a whole other ticket. I can take either flight, or I can even take *both* for $140.

    Refundable Ticket: $300 for the same features? Well, technically one feature less. That’s over twice as much for essentially nothing *in this case*.

    Now for gov’t employees, or business travel, it makes sense to spare yourself the extra expense approvals etc., and just do it to save yourself some of the inefficiencies of business travel in general.

  18. DojiStar says:

    Jet Blue’s nonrefundable tickets cost you $40 per ticket if you cancel and are issued a voucher. You then have 12 months from the date of the original booking to use your voucher or lose the total cost of the booking.

    So I’m not exactly seeing the advantage of paying a couple hundred bucks just in case you need to cancel.

    If you can’t find some time over the next year to reschedule then you deserve to lose your money.

  19. kepler11 says:

    ok, I’m not a Jetblue traveler, so some of this will depend on the exact policy of the airline, which should be taken into account when saying whether the refundable ticket is worth it or not. Also, I was not completely familiar with B6′s change policy until reading it now. I have read it, and I find that Jetblue does have many policies that are much friendlier than other legacy airlines.

    The refundable ticket allows you to change your mind as many times as you want, and access available seats any time up to when you want to go, because by definition it is the most expensive fare you can buy. This is of great value to business travelers who can afford it, who unlike leisure/budget travelers, want to be able to change plans when unexpected things arise, like when meetings run late or end early, date changes, etc.

    The reason that this may work out to a better deal than buying one non-refundable ticket to begin with, and changing it as you like, is that there are not just fees, but also the very important point that you must pay the fare difference ***between what you originally bought and what you are essentially buying at the time of the change***.

    If you want to be able to change your mind about a flight, and modify the time or date, you can do it an unlimited number of times with the refundable ticket. With non-refundable tickets, every time you change your mind, you have a penalty of $40, and “…plus any applicable difference in airfare…” (direct quote from Jetblue) — this is the big gotcha.

    So first, if you change your ticket a few times, you may already be nearing the value of the refundable ticket, and yet still you have a non-refundable ticket.

    Secondly, I believe that for example, if you bought a non-refundable ticket for a month from now, you wouldn’t be able to just call them up a day before your flight, pay $40 and change to the day before, or say if you were trying to be clever, tomorrow even. That would be some sneaky way of not having to buy advance purchase tickets for a flight tomorrow, and the airlines are not that dumb. You have to pay the difference between the fare you bought, and that of a ticket *for tomorrow’s travel*, which could be sky high. You’re saying, fine, if I miss the flight, I’ll be able to buy another ticket for $70. I doubt it — those seats are gone. Try pricing a ticket for a flight tomorrow, as if you missed today’s flight. It will not be just $70, as if you purchased it a month in advance.

    You cannot just compare these two types of tickets by saying that you’ll be able to buy a non-refundable ticket, change it at short notice whenever you want, so that it’s equivalent to the refundable ticket. The airline is actually not that dumb to not understand what you’re thinking. There is a real value to what they’re offering in this refundable ticket and if you try to get around it, you’ll see that it is a real product, not some gimmick.

  20. facted says:

    Kepler11: There are certainly some people out there who may need to cancel their flights completely and may need to change their flights multiple times before actually flying (thereby racking up many $40 change fees).

    However, for the majority of the traveling public, on jetblue, you simply cancel your ticket and pay $40. Now I have a credit for whatever my ticket was worth. When I know when I want to fly, I simply buy my ticket (it can be at any time up to one year) using that credit. Using this logic, I don’t pay multiple $40 change fees.

    As for your second point about the change in fare: Assume that I need to cancel my flight, and instead, I want to fly in a month. On Jetblue, chances are you are probably paying the same (and you certainly aren’t paying 100′s more…the one-way fare on many flights is capped, I believe at $299 depending on the length of the flight). One month ahead of time, however, you are likely not paying $299 (that’s more walk-up fare). So I’ve payed the $40 change fee from earlier, and now, let’s assume, a $50 change of fare.

    Now the refundable ticket wants to do the same exact thing. He doesn’t pay the $40 change fee, but we assume he paid let’s say $150 for a refundable ticket. He gets his full ticket price back, but when he goes to buy the ticket for the following month, he TOO pays the new price that the non-refundable ticket paid…the flight has gone up in price $50. Just because he got his money back doesn’t make him immune to that change. So now total he’s paid $200 (150 extra and $50 for the increased fare). The non-refund. ticket person paid $40 (change fee) and $50 (increased fare).

    The non-refundable ticket in essence saved $110 in this example (and that’s assuming the refundable ticket is only 150 extra…). To make up that difference, the non-refund. would have to make 3 more flight changes at $40 a piece to justify the refundable ticket.