Just hours after Spirit’s deal with Frontier Airlines fell through due to a lack of shareholder support, JetBlue swooped in with an offer Spirit couldn't refuse. Pending approval from antitrust regulators, the $3.8 billion deal is set to close during the first half of 2024, with both airlines operating as normal until then. This union would create the fifth-largest airline in the United States, a goal which JetBlue hopes will increase competition with the Big Four airlines — Delta, American, United and Southwest — in order to bring down fares. Still, the deal is expected to face regulatory pushback, largely because it’s likely to create a monopoly in the industry.
With this deal, JetBlue plans to increase its reach to include more flight routes and destinations around the world. The New York-based airline is looking to expand operations in Fort Lauderdale and Orlando, Fla.; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Los Angeles, as well as in the Big Four’s airline hubs — Las Vegas, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta and Miami. The combined airline will be headquartered in New York and consist of 458 aircraft. JetBlue plans to retrofit Spirit's yellow planes to their own updated style, including more legroom and seat-back screens, should the merger be approved by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
What does this mean for JetBlue passengers?
Because JetBlue is the dominant airline in this merger arrangement, JetBlue passengers have a lot to look forward to. If the merger goes through, JetBlue will be able to expand its operations to more destinations around the country and globe — which means your JetBlue loyalty will stretch equally as far. While the airline has traditionally flown the majority of its routes in the Eastern United States, the addition of Spirit will allow the airline to become more accessible to passengers across wider regions.
As a result, JetBlue's TrueBlue rewards program will become more valuable. TrueBlue allows members to earn points through credit card spend, flying on JetBlue and select partner airlines, purchasing JetBlue vacation packages, booking hotels and rental cars and more. Now with more flight routes on the table, loyal JetBlue flyers will be able to use their accumulated points and loyalty benefits on more available flights.
What does this mean for Spirit passengers?
For frequent Spirit flyers, the JetBlue merger is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, Spirit fares — which are known for being some of the lowest in the industry — are likely to rise. On the other hand, however, Spirit customers can expect a much-upgraded flying experience including better customer service and more amenities. The expansion of flight routes is another benefit for Spirit passengers, as their flight options will also increase with the merging of the two airlines.
Still, these changes aren’t likely to happen until at least 2025, as the deal will take time to close and the companies will need to figure out how best to merge their loyalty programs and general operations. So, for now, things will largely stay the same for both frequent Spirit and JetBlue flyers.
For those consumers who are disappointed by the possibility that the Spirit merger will increase flight fares, Frontier Airlines is expected to expand in order to fill the gap for domestic low-cost carriers.
How can you benefit from the JetBlue-Spirit merger?
Loyal JetBlue and Spirit passengers can best benefit from this change by positioning themselves early for expanded JetBlue opportunities. The best way to do this is by becoming a JetBlue TrueBlue loyalty member and starting to earn points towards free flights.
JetBlue offers a number of credit cards that can be valuable for frequent flyers. Owning a co-branded JetBlue credit card can help boost your points earning right off the bat with a sign-up bonus, and often come with perks like free checked bags, in-flight savings, JetBlue Vacations credits and more.
With more flight options on the horizon, it's smart to start thinking ahead and racking up points that can be used on both JetBlue-Spirit combined flights, as well as flights with Hawaiian Airlines.