On Thursday, July 28, 2022, JetBlue and Spirit Airlines announced that they reached a merger agreement that would create the fifth largest airline in the United States, behind American, Southwest, Delta, and United.
Is this potential merger a good or bad thing for travelers who traditionally fly with JetBlue or Spirit? Below is a list of pros and cons for travelers:
Pros of a JetBlue and Spirit Airlines Merger
- Get the JetBlue ‘Experience’
JetBlue will be the operating carrier after the two airlines merge. That is great news for travelers who want a nicer in-flight experience since the JetBlue flight experience is superior to the Spirit flight experience in almost every way. Regarding the seats, leg room, snacks, and overall look and feel of the flight product, the JetBlue experience is one of the best economy experiences in the United States, and this style of travel may spread to Spirit flights.
- JetBlue’s Generous Cancellation Policy Replaces Spirit’s Non-Refundable Fares
If your flight is canceled by Spirit, historically, it is very difficult to get refunded or reimbursed for travel inconveniences. Now that JetBlue may be the operating carrier, the JetBlue Passenger Bill of Rights would come into effect. The JetBlue Passenger Bill of Rights allows for automatic compensation of a $50-$250 credit for use on future travel with the airline for various cancellations and delays. If customers are involuntarily denied boarding, they receive $1,550. The contract is unique for a United States carrier since the U.S. Department of Transportation does not outline as many rights for travelers compared to the European Union.
- Larger Fleets and More Staff Means Fewer Delays
With a larger fleet of planes and a larger staff of pilots at its disposal after the Spirit merger, JetBlue will be better positioned to deploy planes to address delays caused by plane shortages. That would hopefully result in more on-time departures and fewer delays and cancellations for travelers.
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- New Routes that Include Central and South America and the Caribbean
With the merger comes more route options for travelers. Spirit currently flies to a variety of countries in Central and South America, including Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, Panama, Costa Rica, Colombia, and Ecuador. Spirit also flies to Caribbean destinations like the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. Maarten, and Aruba. That complements JetBlue’s routes, which predominantly focus on domestic travel with options available to Vancouver, London, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and select destinations in South America.
- JetBlue’s $30 Flash Sales Could Be a Trend for More Airlines
JetBlue has been known to have flash sales where flights start at around $30 per segment. With JetBlue becoming a larger airline, it may encourage other large airlines like Delta, American, and United to lower flight prices to stay competitive, which is good news for travelers.
Cons of any JetBlue and Spirit Airlines Merger
- Say ‘Goodbye’ to Spirit’s No-Frills, Low-Cost Flights
Spirit is America’s largest ultra-low-cost carrier option for budget travelers. The merger would remove a popular option for those looking to pay, for example (as fares vary), less than $100 for a cross-country, no-frills flight.
- Less Competition Could Lead to More Expensive Flights
While the merger may allow JetBlue to become more competitive with other large airlines, the merger would mean that competition overall is lower, especially amongst ultra-low-cost carriers. With the largest ultra-low-cost carrier removed from the competitive landscape, other ultra-low-cost carriers, such as Frontier, Breeze Airways, and Allegiant, may have room to increase their prices. Even fares with United and Delta are historically cheaper if on a route serviced by Spirit, and if the merger goes through, the larger airlines will not need to drop fares as much on these routes to stay competitive.
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