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JetBlue Customers: New Boarding Process

Weather_Lady

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
FWIW, a few weeks ago JetBlue rolled out a new boarding process. Instead of boarding in 5-row increments from the back of the plane, customers are now assigned a boarding group (it will appear on your boarding pass). Boarding proceeds as follows:
  • Pre-Boarding for customers with disabilities
  • Mosaic and Mint® customers
  • Even More® Space customers (Group A)
  • Courtesy Boarding for active military personnel and customers traveling with children in car seats or strollers (not "children under a certain age," as before)
  • General Boarding by group:
    • Group B
    • Group C
    • Group D
    • Group E (N/A for E-190 aircraft)
  • All remaining customers
Early reviews describe Groups B, C D (and for larger aircraft, E) as starting with:
Group B: window seats in the back; then
Group C: middle seats in the back + window seats in the front; then
Group D: aisle seats in the back + middle seats in the front; then
Group D/E: aisle seats in the front.

Of importance to families traveling together, the JetBlue website has the following Q&A (see below). What it boils down to is that if you want to board together, you should either be traveling under the same reservation number and check in together, OR if you can't and are concerned about kids boarding alone (and I've read anecdotal reports that guests using Disney's resort check-in service for return flights have found that they were checked in separately and got split into different boarding groups), then try to select pairs of window and aisle seats toward the back of the aircraft in the same row, with (for a family of four), one adult and one child in the window seats (who will be in the same boarding group and can board together), and one adult and one child in the adjacent aisle seats (who will be in the same boarding group and can board together). Of course, if that doesn't work for your family configuration, then you can always choose to have the whole party board together with the person who has the last-called boarding group assignment in your party, too. Here's JetBlue's official word:

Q: Will families or multiple customers traveling together be split up with this new boarding process?
A: As long as you’re on the same reservation and check in together, parties traveling together will be prioritized into the earliest boarding group assigned to that party on the same reservation. If you check in separately, you may be assigned different boarding groups, even if you’re on the same reservation. In this scenario, you are welcome to board in the group you are each assigned, or if you’d prefer to board together, you may board with the latter of the assigned groups in your party.


More information here:
http://mobile.jetblue.com/mt/help.jetblue.com/SRVS/CGI-BIN/webcgi.exe?New,Kb=askBlue,case=obj(381591)
 
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Weather_Lady

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
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The new procedure won't affect most travelers too much, since it's little more than a modification of back-to-front boarding (combining back-to-front with outside-in), and mimics what many other airlines already do. However, if (like my family) you travel carryon-only and want virtually-guaranteed space in overhead bins, this means that seat reservations in the rear of the plane aren't necessarily the most advantageous anymore: now it also depends on whether your seat is a window, middle and/or aisle seat. If bin space is important to you, and unless you qualify for boarding prior to the B group, you'll want to reserve (or have someone in your party, on the same reservation and checking in with you, reserve) a window seat in the rear half of the aircraft.
 
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Weather_Lady

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
I apologize for the bump, but I wanted to weigh in with a word of caution after a few recent experiences with Jetblue's "new" boarding system. My previous advice ("if bin space is important to you, you'll want to reserve a window seat in the rear half of the aircraft") was not correct.

Despite anecdotal speculation that rear window seats are generally assigned to the "B" boarding group, and JetBlue's statement that guests on the same itinerary who check in together will get the earliest boarding group to which any of their seats are entitled, it hasn't worked out that way for us on our last few JetBlue flights.

For each, we had 4 seats under 1 reservation on an A320 (6 seats across) -- they were A,B,C,D (window, middle, aisle, aisle) seats in the rear of the aircraft, and we were checked in simultaneously. Nonetheless, we were given "C" boarding group assignments each time. Since we wanted overhead space for our carryons, this meant that we had to camp out at the gate on the heels of the B group, in order to try and board early enough in the C group to still get overhead space. Nothing says "start to a carefree vacation" like wielding your luggage as a shield around your children to keep other gate creepers from elbowing them in the face as the C group surges forward en masse! ;)

I've gotta say, I am not a fan of JetBlue's new boarding process! It took longer than the old back-to-front boarding (all it takes is one confused or pokey Group B passenger with a seat near the front to gum up the entire works, and we seemed to have several on every flight!), and replaced an orderly system with a stressful one. Why JetBlue thought this change was a good one is a mystery to me.

The good news is that if you prefer to check your luggage and aren't worried about overhead space, you can rest easy. If your flight is full or close to it, you typically won't even have to pay to check your luggage -- just wait by the gate for the inevitable call to courtesy-gate-check your carryon for free, in order to free up space in the overheads. Your wallet, and your passengers who are competing with one another for that overhead space, will thank you. :)
 
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