JetBlue Does The Right Thing, Caps Fares Out Of Florida At $99

I posted earlier about the prices that the legacy carriers are charging for tickets out of Florida ahead of Hurricane Irma’s expected landfall. There was one report of United wanting over $6,000 for a round-trip between Miami and Denver. I couldn’t verify that, but I certainly see plenty of fares in the $1,500 range for one-way tickets. That’s assuming you can get one at all, of course.

To me, this brings up an interesting question. Is it okay for airlines to jack up their prices to take advantage of the high demand during emergencies like this? 

Well, JetBlue is apparently saying no, it is not alright, as they have just announced that they will sell their remaining seats out of Florida for $99. JetBlue operates a hub in Fort Lauderdale, so they have a lot of capacity.

JetBlue selling remaining seats out of Florida for $99

For those still looking to get the heck out of Dodge, JetBlue is selling their remaining inventory out of Florida for $99 per seat. That’s an incredible deal, probably close to what you would pay for an advanced purchase ticket.

I found availability at $99 per ticket on Thursday or Friday from Fort Lauderdale (FLL) to Pittsburgh.

And Fort Lauderdale to Boston, one of their other hubs.

It seems that points booking might not be lowered, as they are only getting a value of about 1 cent per point, which I think is a bit lower than what you can usually redeem JetBlue points for. Then again, for those with lots of points and short on cash, it’s not a bad option.

Interestingly, they also have some seats to parts of the Caribbean for $99, including San Juan. Puerto Rico has its own hurricane challenges of course, though I suppose this could be useful to those needing to help family prepare or clean up.

And don’t forget, JetBlue flies out of other Florida airports too besides Fort Lauderdale. I found options from Orlando to New York, for example.

Book now, ask questions later

These fares obviously won’t last long as demand is obviously very high. So my advice is that if you find something that works — which is to say whatever gets you out of Florida in a timely manner to almost anywhere — I’d book it straightaway. You can figure out a return later.

Bottom line

I’m really glad to see JetBlue bucking the trend and offering their remaining seats out of the path of Hurricane Irma at the bargain price of $99. That’s really commendable as they are surely leaving thousands of dollars on the table.

Then again, I’m sure they are also getting some good PR out of it. It’d be great if they could claim the difference between what they could sell them for — as easily verified by checking the competition — and what they are selling them for as a charitable contribution.

What do you make of JetBlue offering their remaining inventory out of Florida for cheap?

Comments

  1. @travis “To me, this brings up an interesting question. Is it okay for airlines to jack up their prices to take advantage of the high demand during emergencies like this?”

    I think it’s beyond about what is the right thing to do or normal-day supply-demand. i think there are also laws (not sure about Florida) that prohibit companies from price gouging or profiteering in natural disasters.

  2. Adi,

    It may not have been a conscious decision to jack fares. The airlines very likely have yield management software that adjusts prices according to demand, much like the bookies’ odds change with the weight of bets.

    In other words, UAL didn’t jack prices because of a disaster. They just didn’t stop the software from doing that automatically.

  3. Awesome. I live in Orlando and am flying out to new york on this flight (due to hurricane). I’m praying for my fellow Floridians though

  4. False info! Flights from SJU, BQN and PSE are not $99. Do a search. Most def PR. Florida won’t even get hit as much as Puerto Rico or US Virgin.

  5. https://finance.yahoo.com/news/jetblue-caps-ticket-prices-florida-99-ahead-hurricane-irma-173232462.html

    American and Delta are following suit in some ways it seems. and mentions of them adding capacity. Delta is actually in a good position to fairy people from the islands and south Florida if need be with the ATL hub.

    Also though, glad to know JBLU can make their product look awesome by doing the right thing by people even if it doesnt maximize profits.

  6. @Stranded: He said it was on flights TO SJU, not from. Looks like the eye wall stayed off the Puerto Rican coast, so at least that is some good news.

  7. @W I, too, am in the Central Florida region but I’ll be staying back in Florida. I wish I could leave though, wish me luck!

  8. So now people (including those in decent areas that will be safe during the storm will take the cheap fares for the wrong reasons.

    So less people will be able to flee for living in danger zones because flights will be full.

    Price helps determine proper allocation of resources

  9. Right thing by who? I am a shareholder and I did not sign up for this capitalism by the heart BS. Let the ducked drown if they can’t or won’t pay market prices.

    People of florida of all places should understand capitalism.

  10. I agree with @Paul and @Agagsgs. Travis is just blindly repeating the social media orthodoxy that “gouging” is bad and hurts people during a natural disaster. If they could raise prices substantially, without people condemning them on social media, you’d see airlines bring in a lot more capacity than they otherwise would. And with fares being artificially *low* on JetBlue, maybe some people who were looking for a last-minute trip this week decide now is a great time for a quick trip to Disney World, as long as they get a nice, cheap confirmed reservation on a flight back on Friday morning before the storm hits. In other words, by lowering prices, Jet Blue could actually distort the market by giving inventory away to people who don’t actually put a very high value on it (but who just happen to book those seats before the guy who really needs to get out of Florida and has no other option).

    This kind of behavior is not actually helping the situation, but of course, Jet Blue knows people will just laud their PR efforts without thinking critically about how scarce resources can be allocated to people who need them the most.

    Incidentally, the last paragraph of Travis’s post betrays just how much ignorance there is on this blog of basic economic concepts: Travis proposes that JetBlue be allowed to “claim the difference between” their fares and competitors’ fares “as a charitable contribution.” The concept of claiming a “charitable contribution” has no application to corporate tax (presumably Travis is thinking of individual income tax). Corporations can deduct all of their expenses from their income tax bill, whether or not the expense is charitable in nature. Here, yes, JetBlue will receive a tax benefit: It will not be taxed on the foregone revenue. It doesn’t need to “claim” a “charitable contribution” to accomplish that; the foregone revenue is simply excluded from JetBlue’s taxable income. But the economic effect is the same; the federal government will kick it whatever JetBlue’s marginal tax rate is (probably around 39% of the foregone revenue) in the form of a lower tax bill.

  11. @Debit
    Sometimes it isn’t a sound business decision to gouge customers during a time of disaster, as even though B6 may lose a bit of potential money here, they may earn it back in goodwill.

  12. @john yeah I see a huge market of people being like, “let me run down to Florida for the hell of it and get out before the storm hits”. Just because something is possible doesn’t make it likely or prevalent.

  13. Ok, John and others are being a bit much here with the example of people trying to take advantage of the fares for vacation.

    But, that said, his comments on the lack of basic economic concepts on this blog reigns true a good bit. JetBlue is more than benefiting from this financially, charitable deductions on top of that (if that even were a thing) is just asking for even more corruption in our financial system.

    Finally, I give United a lot of benefit of the doubt here. No one pays full Y and the prices quoted align with a full Y fare – it sounds a lot like reservation system failure to me instead of price gouging. Starting to feel like a Garry Leff blog with this sensationalism.

  14. This is very bad reporting – once again. Im here in Palm Beach leaving today on Jet Blue. I paid about $300 per person – no big deal. HOWEVER, there are NO FLIGHTS – especially now – that are available. There may have been one or two seats – per day – for $99 – for two minutes – but they are now sold out. YOUR very poor – very poor – example now shows that flights are completely sold out through Sunday – not that JetBlue has any intention of running flights during a hurricane.

    This is false advertising, poor reporting, and fake news.

  15. Reminds me of the Uber surge pricing scenario during an emergency. JetBlue did the right thing and airlines should not be allowed to take advantage of these situations to make extra profit.

  16. This is the WRONG THING. We need the price system to conserve resources, moderate marginal demand and bring on new supply. However I do understand a business wanting to build good will with certain actions like this, that is far more likely to happen than “rampant gouging”, especially from large businesses (which matter most)

    Check out this podcast on the subject: http://tomwoods.com/ep-987-price-gouging-is-urgently-necessary/

  17. This is refreshing – and consistent with JetBlue’s policy towards relief efforts, it seems. I know first-hand that JetBlue donates flights for volunteers going to help in disaster relief – without any fuss or fanfare (e.g. asking for a shoutout on social media). They are amazing!

  18. Travis, I’m sorry but these recent articles about pricing out of FL display a surprising lack of knowledge on how airlines price seats. What I’ve seen does not look like it meets the definition of price gouging. Legally, this occurs when a business raises prices to profit from an emergency. Flights are selling out. As everyone here should know, the last few seats on the plane are only available in full-fare inventory. Consider UA fares from MIA-EWR. At this moment, I see available seats in Y/B/M. The M fare was filed with an effective date of 6/28/17 at $1078 r/t (plus taxes/fees). It’s not “gouging” to charge a fare that has been in place for three months. This is entirely different from “surge” pricing on uber — which is literally a situational surcharge. To an infrequent traveler, any seat on the plane is the same as any other. However, the last seat on a plane is a different product from the first. You should know better.

    There is no good way to get millions of Floridians out of MIA. Airlines could open up inventory in cheaper fare buckets, but this is useless unless they simultaneously put more flights on the route.

  19. Most of these flights are not bookable at all. I saw quite a few days for $99 to Las Vegas, but every time I try to book a date it says no flights are available or operating.

  20. No JetBlue didn’t do the right thing. It is completely moral to increase price due demand. Imagine you don’t have a car to get out of Miami, you will pay $1500 to escape disaster and you will be able to buy a ticket because most people with a car wouldn’t pay $1500 if they can drive. With $99 fare, a lot of people will fly instead of drive and the people who really need to fly (e.g. no car) might not be able to get a ticket!

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