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JetBlue Shows Restraint in Upping Change Fees

Nobody likes change fees. But they're a fact of travel life (unless you're flying Southwest).

And higher change fees are more onerous than lower change fees. But the major airlines this month all raised their fees, to $100 for domestic tickets and as much as $300 for international tickets.

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So last week, when JetBlue announced that it was increasing its change fees, the expectation was that the new levels would be comparable to the other airlines'.

And why not? The precedent had been set, giving JetBlue cover to follow the larger airlines. JetBlue would just be adopting the new industry standard, after all. Move along; nothing to see here.

But JetBlue confounded the expectations of most industry-watchers by imposing a new set of fees that is considerably more nuanced, and potentially less onerous, than the heavier-handed gouges found elsewhere.

The new fees will be $75 for any tickets changed or cancelled more than 60 days prior to the date of departure. For changes or cancellations made within 60 days, the fees will be as follows:

  • $75 for fares under $100
  • $100 for fares between $100 and $149
  • $150 for fares $150 or more

Keying the fees to the cost of tickets at least eliminates the possibility of incurring a fee that is higher than the original ticket's price, the kind of P.R. eyesore the mainline carriers seem not to have considered.

Still, the fees are patently out of proportion to any costs incurred by the airline in processing the changes. And charging a lower fee for changes more than 60 days out is more about appearance than reality: The number of changes made that far out is miniscule.

JetBlue has staked out a position that is more consumer-friendly than the industry standard, but only marginally so.

This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.

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