Which Is Better: Alaska Airlines vs. JetBlue Airways

West Coast travelers will find Alaska to be a convenient choice, but JetBlue wins out for international travel.
Aug 3, 2022

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There are so many airlines flying across the country these days, that it can be difficult to parse which one is best. While most people are familiar with bigger companies like American Airlines or Delta Air Lines, some of the smaller ones — including Alaska Airlines or Jetblue Airways — may still be a bit of a mystery to casual travelers.

So in the battle of Alaska Airlines vs. JetBlue, who comes out on top? We’ll take a look at route maps, credit card availability, loyalty programs, fees and inflight experience to see which airline you should check out the next time you’re searching for a flight.

Where they’re based and where they fly

Winner for most options: Alaska for domestic, JetBlue for international

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines says it offers more nonstop flights from the West Coast than any other carrier, but its list of 115 destinations via 1,200 daily departures extends across the U.S., Mexico, Canada and Costa Rica as well. The airline’s hubs and focus cities include:

  • Seattle.

  • Anchorage, Alaska.

  • Los Angeles.

  • San Francisco.

  • Portland, Oregon.

  • San Diego.

  • San Jose, California.

JetBlue

JetBlue offers flights to more than 100 destinations via 1,000 daily flights and has travel options to many countries in the Caribbean, Latin America and the United Kingdom. Its hub cities include:

  • Boston.

  • Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

  • Long Beach, California.

  • New York.

  • Orlando, Florida.

  • San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Travel credit card availability

Winner for airline credit card lineup: JetBlue

Alaska Airlines credit cards

Alaska offers two credit cards: one for personal and one for business use. Both offer a quick and easy way to earn miles and come with a variety of benefits.

Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa Signature®  Credit Card
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Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card: Buy one ticket, get one for just the taxes and fees ($0 fare plus taxes and fees from $22) and receive 40,000 bonus miles with this offer. To qualify, make $3,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account. Other benefits include:

  • A free checked bag for you and up to six traveling companions on the same itinerary

  • 20% back on in-flight purchases.

  • 50% off day passes at Alaska lounges when you pay with your card.

  • 3x miles on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases and 1x mile for all other purchases.

All for a $75 annual fee.

Alaska Airlines Visa® Business card
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Alaska Airlines Visa® Business card: Get 70,000 bonus miles plus Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22) with this offer. To qualify, make $4,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account. Other benefits include:

  • A free checked bag for you and up to six people on your itinerary.

  • 20% back on in-flight purchases.

  • 3x miles on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases and 1x mile for all other purchases.

The annual fee is $50 for the company and $25 per card.

JetBlue credit cards

JetBlue offers three credit card options — two personal cards and a business card.

JetBlue Card: Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days. Other benefits include:

  • Earn 3x points on eligible JetBlue purchases, 2x points at restaurants and grocery stores and 1x point on all other purchases.

  • 50% savings on eligible in-flight food and drink purchases.

There is no annual fee on this card.

Barclays JetBlue Plus Credit Card
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JetBlue Plus Card: Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases and paying the annual fee in full, both within the first 90 days. Other benefits include:

  • 6x points on eligible JetBlue purchases, 2x points on restaurants and grocery stores and 1x on everything else.

  • Your first checked bag is free for you and up to three travel companions.

  • 50% savings on eligible in-flight food and drink purchases.

  • Get 10% of your points back as a bonus after you redeem them for, and travel on, a JetBlue-operated award flight.

  • Receive TrueBlue Mosaic benefits for one year if you spend $50,000 or more on purchases annually.

  • Earn 5,000 bonus points every year on your account anniversary.

  • Annual $100 statement credit after you purchase a JetBlue Vacations package of $100 or more with your JetBlue Plus Card.

There is an annual fee of $99.

JetBlue Business Card
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JetBlue Business Card: Earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 90 days, and earn an additional 10,000 bonus points after a purchase is made on an employee card. Other benefits include:

  • 6x points on eligible JetBlue purchases, 2x points on restaurants and office supply stores, and 1x on everything else.

  • Your first checked bag is free for you and up to three travel companions.

  • 50% savings on eligible in-flight food and drink purchases.

  • Get 10% of your points back as a bonus after you redeem them for travel on a JetBlue-operated award flight.

  • Enjoy TrueBlue Mosaic benefits for one year if you spend $50,000 or more on purchases annually.

  • Earn 5,000 bonus points yearly on your account anniversary.

  • Annual $100 statement credit after you purchase a JetBlue Vacations package of $100 or more with your JetBlue Business Card.

All for an annual fee of $99.

Airline loyalty programs

Winner for ease of earning and redeeming miles: Alaska

Alaska Airlines

You can earn Mileage Plan Miles by flying with Alaska or Oneworld alliance member airlines, booking hotel stays and shopping through the airline’s dedicated portal.

Those miles, based on NerdWallet’s valuations, are worth 1.1 cents. But while these miles might not look like they have the most value compared with other airlines, NerdWallet has routinely rated Alaska’s Mileage Plan as the best in the business.

That could be due in part to the fact that award flights start at 5,000 miles. You can also book flights on Oneworld Alliance airlines to over 1,000 destinations worldwide, plus book upgrades and hotel stays using your Mileage Plan miles.

JetBlue

Earn TrueBlue Points by flying or by spending with a variety of retail partners. You can even earn points by flying with JetBlue’s partner airlines, which include Hawaiian Airlines and American Airlines.

Based on NerdWallet’s valuations, JetBlue TrueBlue points are worth 1.5 cents. And unlike with many other frequent traveler programs, TrueBlue members can pool their points with family or friends to earn award tickets faster. Passengers can also book with a combination of cash and points if they don’t have quite enough points saved up for a flight.

Points can be redeemed for flights, of course, but also for the flight portion of a JetBlue vacation or a flight and hotel package. Bonus: there are no blackout dates on JetBlue award bookings, which means you can use your points for any seat on any flight.

Extra fees

Winner for the lowest fees: Alaska

Every airline comes with a unique set of fees, but not all fees are applicable to all travelers.

Alaska Airlines

On Alaska flights, each passenger is permitted one carry-on bag and one personal item. But your first checked bag will cost you $30 and your second $40. Additional bags cost a whopping $100, as do oversized bags or luggage heavier than 50 pounds.

If you’re traveling with a pet, whether they are small enough to fit in an under-seat carrier or have to be placed in the climate-controlled baggage compartment, it costs $100 each way.

Tickets for unaccompanied minors cost an additional $50 each way on a direct flight and $75 on a connecting flight (except for children ages five to seven, who are always $50).

JetBlue

All JetBlue fares except Blue Basic include a personal item and carry-on bag (Blue Basic fares get a personal item only). Checked bags cost $35 for the first bag and $45 for the second. But, if you’re flying on a Blue Plus ticket or have a JetBlue Plus Card, your first checked bag is free. Those with a first-class Mint ticket or Mosaic elite status can check up to two bags for free. Overweight or oversized bags cost an additional $150 if they are between 51 and 99 pounds.

Flying with a pet costs $125 each way, and unaccompanied minors cost $150 each way. There are no change or cancellation fees on any fares except for Blue Basic.

In-flight experience

Winner of the sky: JetBlue

Alaska Airlines

Alaska offers over 800 movies and TV shows via its inflight entertainment, but you’ll need to bring your own device to watch them on. The airline also offers unlimited satellite Wi-Fi for $8 on most of its aircraft, and there’s free texting with iMessage, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp via the airline’s free inflight Wi-Fi.

As for food and beverages, passengers get free non-alcoholic drinks on flights over 350 miles, with alcoholic beverages available for purchase. You can also pre-order meals on flights over 1,100 miles or purchase snacks on board flights that are at least 783 miles.

JetBlue

JetBlue offers seatback entertainment with a wide selection of movies and TV to keep boredom at bay. Plus, the airline offers free Wi-Fi for every passenger on every flight.

All JetBlue flights feature free snacks and non-alcoholic beverages. You can also purchase snack boxes on flights over two hours or cafe meals on flights over three and a half hours. Alcoholic beverages are available for purchase, too.

If you’re considering JetBlue vs. Alaska Airlines

If you’re trying to decide between flying on Alaska or JetBlue, they are both excellent airlines, and choosing between them will largely come down to where you want to fly. If you routinely jet around the West Coast, Alaska is tops. If you prefer international travel options, JetBlue is supreme.

But there are other things to consider, too. If you regularly check luggage or fly with pets, the difference in fees could add up fast. And if you want a no-fee credit card, there’s only one option. So weigh your preferences to find the best airline for you.


How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2022, including those best for:

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