While West Coast travelers often sing the praises of Southwest Airlines for families, my East Coast bias makes JetBlue my family’s favorite airline. While nothing can quite top the free checked bag benefit Southwest offers, JetBlue offers an in-flight experience and loyalty program features that really appeal to family travelers. If you’re flying JetBlue with your children, make sure to familiarize yourself with all the unique features and perks JetBlue offers families.
Here’s a deep dive look into what you need to know when you fly on JetBlue with kids.
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What You Need to Know About Flying JetBlue Airlines with Kids
1. Free in-flight entertainment keeps you and your kids occupied
When JetBlue introduced complimentary DirectTV to their flights it gave the airline a real competitive advantage over others. Having a live TV feed isn’t quite as necessary these days with the simplicity of an iPad, but it’s still great to have as a backup option on flights to entertain your kids.
Luckily, JetBlue offers more than just DirectTV these days. You also get access to free movies, and on airplanes that feature touchscreens you get access to a deep library of on demand movies and television shows. On top of all that, Amazon Prime members can stream Prime Video titles for free as well on their personal devices (be sure to download the Amazon Video app before you take flight). With so many entertainment options, you’ll be able to keep your kids (and yourself!) occupied for hours on end.
2. Enjoy free gate to gate Wi-Fi with JetBlue’s FlyFi
JetBlue offers free gate to gate Wi-Fi for everyone on board, so you can surf the web to your heart’s desire. In my experience, the Wi-Fi speeds are generally pretty good, although the connection will sometimes drop depending on satellite coverage. As noted above, Amazon Prime members can stream Prime Video titles onboard and the bandwidth certainly can handle it.
One little known benefit on JetBlue – you receive 3 JetBlue points per dollar when shopping at Amazon onboard, so perhaps plan to make a few regular family purchases when you’re in flight.
3. Blue Basic fares save money but might not be worth it
JetBlue recently introduced Blue Basic fares, which are JetBlue’s answer to basic economy fares. Like most “basic” fares, you save money but at a cost. After July 20, 2021, Blue Basic fares no longer include a checked or carry on bag. One personal item that fits under your seat is still included, but you’ll have to pay $65 to put anything in the overhead bin.
If you want to choose a seat more than 24 hours before your flight, you’ll also have to pay an extra fee. For our family, not being able to choose seats together is a non-starter. Blue Basic flights are also subject to a $100 change fee per person for any Blue Basic flights booked after June 7, 2021.
If you are considering booking a Blue Basic fare to save money on your flight, be sure to calculate how many extra fees you will be paying and whether you’ll really be saving money. Blue Basic fares will also put you in the final boarding group unless you have small children.
JetBlue’s standard Blue fares, by contrast, come with a carry on bag, allow advance seat selection, and allow you general boarding. JetBlue’s premium offerings, JetBlue Plus and JetBlue Extra, offer various benefits but are much pricier. JetBlue Plus includes a checked bag and JetBlue Extra comes with early boarding and JetBlue’s Even More Speed expedited security screening feature at select airports. On select cross country and international flights you can also book JetBlue Mint, JetBlue’s lie flat business class product, which comes with a dedicated check in line, expedited security screening, early boarding, and two checked bags included.
In general, Blue fares will do the trick for the majority of families.
4. If you’re going to check bags, pay in advance to save some money
For domestic flights, JetBlue charges $35 for your first checked bag and $45 for your second for all fares except JetBlue Plus which comes with one included checked bag. Be sure to check in one bag per person first to keep it at the $35 price point. Also, if you pay for your checked bags more than 24 hours in advance of your flight you can save $5 on both your first and second checked bags. If you are on a Blue Basic fare and try to bring a carry on bag to put in the overhead bin, they will charge you $65 to check it at the gate, so be careful!
If you’re going to fly JetBlue for more than one roundtrip per year and need to check bags, you might want to consider getting the JetBlue Plus card – you and up to three companions will each get one complimentary checked bag on every flight. The card carries an annual fee of $99 but four checked bags per year wipes that cost away, so it’s definitely something worth considering.
5. Change your flights for free for all fares except Blue Basic
After June 7, 2021, any changes you need to make to Blue Basic fares will cost you $100 per change per passenger. But the good news is, all other JetBlue fares will allow you to change your flights for free! You just need to pay any applicable fare differences. (Related: Which US Airlines Have No Change Fees.) That flexibility can be key when traveling with kids.
You can also make same day flight changes for $75 to a different flight. But since you can change for free before that window it’s better to make your changes in advance if you can.
6. You can board after Group A if you have small children
If you’re traveling with young children, JetBlue will allow your family to board after Group A. This definitely helps out if you need some extra time to get your family settled on the plane.
On one page on JetBlue’s website, the airline indicates that this boarding perk is for families with children under age 2. On another, it says simply that it’s for “customers with small children.” Practices could vary a little bit depending on the particular airport or gate agent you encounter. In my experience, if you are boarding with kids under school age – especially if you have a car seat or stroller to gate check – you’ll have no problem accessing this boarding group.
7. Enjoy complimentary snacks, but don’t expect a full meal
While JetBlue offers a nice selection of complimentary snacks including my favorite, Terra Blue chips, don’t expect a true meal on most flights. You can also buy snack and “Eat Up” boxes, but these extra purchases aren’t super filling. A select few cross-country and international flights have a couple of sandwiches and salads for purchase but can’t be relied upon. If you are worried your kids will get hungry on the plane, you might want to pack your own sandwiches or something with protein from home before your trip.
8. JetBlue seats offer a decent amount of legroom, but if you want more you can purchase Even More Space seats
On JetBlue, you’ll get at least 32 inches of pitch (legroom) on standard seats, which beats a lot of other domestic carriers. But it’s also good to know you have the option to purchase Even More Space seats on your flight if you’re worried about extra squirmy kids. This will give you at least 37 and up to 41 inches of legroom – you’ll feel a real difference sitting in these seats. While these seats can be pricey, you may find it worth it on longer flights.
You can even purchase Even More Space seats on Blue Basic tickets, which effectively gets around the charge for choosing seats greater than 24 hours before your trip.
9. You can pool points between family members for award flights
JetBlue’s TrueBlue program is one of my favorite airline loyalty programs. It uses a simple structure that’s easy to understand, and it’s easy to use your points to purchase flights.
But what I love most about the TrueBlue program is the ability to pool points between family members. The concept is simple. You link the TrueBlue accounts of up to seven people together and then all the points owned by all the family members can be used to book a flight for anyone. This is especially handy if your kids haven’t taken enough flights to earn enough miles to pay for an award flight. You can pool them with parents’ miles to get enough for a ticket much sooner.
JetBlue also allows children of any age to open a TrueBlue account, so your kids can start earning as soon as they are born. (Related: Frequent flyer accounts for kids.)
10. JetBlue makes things easy when traveling with lap infants
The final thing to know about JetBlue and kids pertains to the littlest ones: JetBlue’s lap infant procedures are some of the easiest and best of all the US airlines. You can easily add a lap infant to your reservation as you make an online booking. This is a feature many airlines don’t have, instead making you wait on long phone hold times or stand in a ticket counter line on your travel day in order to add a lap child.
Also, JetBlue doesn’t charge any lap infant fees. Any child under the age of 2 does not need to purchase a separate seat and can fly free of charge on a parent’s lap. Not that there is one limited exception to this rule. On flights from international cities to US destinations (but not the reverse), there is a lap child fee that varies depending on point of origin.
Related: Tips for Flying with Lap Toddler
JetBlue technically requires you to bring proof of age for check in, but in practice I’ve never been asked. Bring a copy of the birth certificate with you to the airport just in case.