JetBlue wants to be a one-stop shop for flights, hotels, cars, and now cruises. It’s also dropping fares to $31 this week to promote buying direct.

JetBlue Cruise Ship
JetBlue is making the shift into a travel company instead of simply being an airline. Austin Deppe / Shutterstock.com and Shutterstock.com
  • JetBlue is adding air and cruise packages to its lineup of JetBlue Vacations travel products.
  • Customers will also be encouraged to book JetBlue flights directly on its website for additional benefits than online travel agents can provide.
  • A new “monster sale” will drop fares to $US31 ($AU41) on 31 routes across the US.

JetBlue Airways wants to sell vacationers more than just their flights, it wants to sell them their entire vacation.

JetBlue Vacations, the platform through which travelers can book package deals for air, hotel, and car rentals, just added cruises to its lineup. The goal is to maximize simplicity in the vacation planning process by allowing travelers to keep more of their bookings under one umbrella, and provide the benefits and protections that come through booking directly with an airline.

Travelers can book air and cruise packages through JetBlue for three lines: Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, and Carnival Cruise Line, with plans to soon grow that list.

Enticing cruise-goers to book with JetBlue is a new “plane to port commitment” where JetBlue will safeguard against trip disruptions from delayed or canceled flights. If a JetBlue flight is responsible for a traveler missing their cruise’s departure, JetBlue will fly them to the next port of call.

JetBlue will also help pay for an entirely new vacation if travelers decide they don’t want to continue with their cruise package in the event of a delayed or canceled flight. Up to 150% of what customers initially paid will be applied to the new vacation.

“If something doesn’t go quite according to plan, we’ll find a way to make you whole whether it’s putting it on a slightly different itinerary, or if that doesn’t work, finding a solution,” Andres Barry, president of JetBlue Travel Products, told Insider of the trip protections JetBlue is offering. “Maybe [that means] even taking a different type of vacation, but something that we can service entirely.

Other options include rebooking the flights and cruise for a later date and only paying for the difference in the package price.

Adding cruise packages marks not only a new JetBlue offering but also a larger shift toward encouraging travelers to book directly with their airlines as opposed to online travel agencies, or OTAs for short.

JetBlue’s latest initiative seeks to get travelers to book directly on its website, which it says will provide the best price and be the most informative about its varying fare rules, as well as keep travelers up to date on delays, cancellations, and schedule changes.

Customers are finding themselves with more choices when booking with JetBlue than ever before, namely in its basic economy and Mint business class fares. And the airline says that the intricacies of each fare aren’t always properly conveyed with booking with an OTA.

“The vast, vast, vast majority of the time that the customer shows up and doesn’t realize they don’t have seats and they end up scattered across the plane or in the back of the plane in the middle seat, is almost always booked through some other OTA or travel agent,” Dave Clark, JetBlue’s vice president of sales and revenue management, told Insider.

Promoting the buy direct strategy is a Halloween-themed “monster sale,” where prices on 31 routes will be brought down to $US31 ($AU41). The fares, which will be featured on routes such as New York-Denver, Boston-Miami, and Chicago-Fort Lauderdale, Florida, are only available for booking on JetBlue’s website.

“Being able to get a lower fare on JetBlue.com for customers as a whole is the number one benefit,” Clark said of the push for more direct bookings.

The buy direct model will also be beneficial to JetBlue Travel Products as website prompts encourage passengers to book vacation packages, with incentives including complimentary early boarding, a free alcoholic beverage on the plane, and customer support that only the airline can provide for its flights.

And if travelers don’t opt for a vacation package or simply don’t want to bundle their bookings, another new JetBlue travel product, Paisly, can help make standalone hotel and car rental arrangements. Paisly was rolled out in May and travelers that make new JetBlue bookings receive an email immediately following their confirmation email.

“We see this as an opportunity to deepen our relationships with customers and we think we can serve them better if we have visibility into their entire trip,” Barry said, adding that the JetBlue Vacations and Paisly platforms are “capital-light” ways of adding new revenue streams.