Based out of New York, JetBlue is one of the most popular airlines in the US. They are a low-cost carrier but still offer premium experiences with great in-flight entertainment and very competitive business class products.
But how do they compare on the safety side of things?
In this article, I’ll break down all of the different safety concerns you might have over JetBlue and give you an idea of how they rank compared to other airlines.
Table of Contents
Is JetBlue Airways Safe?
Yes, JetBlue Airways is certified by the FAA and generally a safe airline to fly on.
However, there are multiple factors to consider when deciding how “safe” an airline actually is. Below, I’ll go over some of these factors including the statistics for fatal crashes, fleet overview, and pilot certification.
Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!
Founded in 1998, JetBlue Airways began operations in 2000 and has never had a fatal crash.
According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), here are the recent number of fatal accidents recorded for U.S. Air Carrier Safety Data:
- 2010: 1
- 2011: 0
- 2012: 0
- 2013: 2
- 2014: 0
- 2015: 0
- 2016: 0
- 2017: 0
- 2018: 1
- 2019: 2
As you can tell, fatal accidents on aircraft are very rare and many years nonexistent. So if you want to get an idea of how safe an airline is, it makes sense to look to other data such as the type of fleet that they operate.
Did you know? The original name of JetBlue was going to be “Taxi” complete with a yellow livery to associate the airline with New York. However, this branding strategy was scrapped after JP Morgan allegedly threatened to pull its funding unless the name was changed.
Here’s an overview of JetBlue’s fleet as of October 2021:
- Airbus A220-300: 8
- Airbus A320-200: 130
- Airbus A321-200: 63
- Airbus A321LR: 3
- Airbus A321neo: 18
- Airbus A321XLR: — 13 TBA Deliveries scheduled to begin in 2023
- Embraer 190: 60
The most common aircraft you will find with JetBlue is the Airbus A320-200 and the Airbus A321-200.
There have been fairly recent crashes with the A320 though.
There was the December 2014 AirAsia Flight QZ8501 crash, which killed 162 people.
Bad weather was a major factor but an official report found that “fault in the plane’s rudder control system, along with crew action, contributed to the crash.”
There was also the fatal Airbus A320 crash on Germanwings Flight 9525 but that crash was caused by a suicidal co-pilot.
So while you can find some fairly recent accidents associated with the A320, the general consensus is that it is among the safest aircraft. I certainly would not worry about flying in an A320.
Pilot qualifications and pay
Some of the requirements to become a JetBlue Airways pilot reportedly include:
- 1,500 hours total time in airplanes
- 500 hours in fixed wing airplanes
- Recency of flight experience will be considered
- Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) Certification
- Current FAA Class 1 Medical Certificate
- Ability to obtain a Federal Communication Commission (FCC) Radio License
- Valid Passport with the ability to travel in and out of the United States
- Three reference letters from pilots who can personally attest to the candidate’s flying skills (must bring originals to interview)
- High School Diploma or General Education Development (GED) Diploma
A year one JetBlue captain reportedly earns $234,000.
That sounds pretty good but according to Epic Flight Academy it’s behind all of the following airlines :
- Air Canada
- American Airlines
- Delta Airlines
- Hawaiian airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- United Airlines
The good news is that the pay for captains is above airlines like Allegiant, Frontier, and Spirit by a good margin.
JetBlue did have a bizarre incident with a pilot in 2012 on JetBlue Flight 191.
On that flight, one of the pilots suffered a mental breakdown and started on a diatribe about terrorism, 9/11, and hinted about the plane crashing.
Luckily, the co-pilot was able to trick him into leaving the cockpit and then locked him out, allowing passengers to subdue him.
The plane ultimately landed without any injuries but it must’ve been a pretty frightening ride for the passengers.
According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), in 2020 JetBlue ranked in the middle to lower of the pack for on-time arrival percentage among major US carriers.
Middle to lower of the pack does not sound too impressive but they are just below United and American.
More recent data from 2021 shows that JetBlue landed in the bottom three for US carriers on time percentage:
1. Allegiant Air – 51.9%
2. JetBlue Airways – 55.7%
3. Frontier Airlines – 60.0%
JetBlue operates out of the Northeast heavily so they have to contend with harsh winter weather which could be a reason why they are not highly ranked for being on time.
But still, if you put a high priority on arriving on time, JetBlue may prove to disappoint you more than other airlines.
JetBlue recently ranked as one of the worst airlines for cancellations.
In July 2021, BTS data shows the highest marketing carrier rates of canceled flights:
1. Allegiant Air – 5.8%
2. Frontier Airlines – 3.4%
3. JetBlue Airways – 2.6%
This finding is significant because if you want to blame JetBlue’s issues on winter weather that obviously is not a valid excuse in July.
The good news is that if you look at cancellations in the first half of 2021, JetBlue didn’t do that bad, coming in ahead of Frontier, Alaska, American, and United.
Complaints and fines
Usually, when researching complaints and fines it’s not hard to find a multitude of FAA fines and passenger complaints. But for JetBlue, there were not a lot of complaints that stuck out.
In fact, it seems that JetBlue is one of the airlines that receives a lower level of complaints.
JetBlue has a strong focus on disinfecting their planes.
They use Sani-Cide EX3, a hospital-grade disinfectant effective against COVID-19. They’ve also put extra effort into disinfecting the common surfaces in the airport terminals like the kiosks and counters.
Like other airlines, JetBlue takes care of the air in the aircraft with high-quality filters.
All of their planes are equipped with hospital-grade HEPA air filters, which are said to remove 99.97% or more of particles, bacteria and viruses.
In addition to that, all of the air inside of the cabin is completely changed approximately every three minutes and is made up of roughly 50% fresh air and 50% HEPA filtered air. Read more about their practices here.
Why do people fly JetBlue?
People fly JetBlue for a few main reasons.
JetBlue has some of the best in-flight entertainment available.
They are known for offering a seatback television screen on every seat which is something that most airlines cannot offer.
For example, one of their competitors Southwest doesn’t even offer screens on any aircraft.
JetBlue also has an amazing business class product (Mint) that is arguably the best way to fly around the US.
In addition to those two reasons, JetBlue also offers competitive fares since they are a low-cost carrier.
They are also a travel partner with several of the major banks which makes it really easy to transfer frequent flyer points over to them.
Overall, JetBlue has a solid record in terms of safety of its prior flights and the type of fleet that it utilizes.
They are not necessarily great at being on time but do a pretty good job of avoiding cancellations when compared to other US carriers.
They also don’t have an extensive record with FAA fines and passenger complaints so they seem to be doing a pretty good job in terms of customer service.
And as far as coronavirus goes, they have done a lot to keep environments very sterile to keep passengers safe.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC. Read my bio.