JetBlue vs. American Airlines: Which Is Better?

American Airlines gives JetBlue a run for its money in this showdown of domestic carriers.
Alisha McDarris
By Alisha McDarris 
Updated

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JetBlue Airways vs. American Airlines: If you've got flight options on both airlines for similar routes and times, which one do you choose? If you're deciding between the two, you've got a tough decision to make: Both are solid choices.

It helps to think beyond the short term of the flight in question and consider each airlines' loyalty program, class options, potential for elite status, routes and reliability.

So let's compare their route networks, credit cards, loyalty programs and more to help you decide which of these two airlines is right for you — and which flight you should book now.

Where they’re based and where they fly

Winner: American Airlines

While both airlines travel within the U.S. and internationally, American's network is far more extensive. Not only does American fly to more places than JetBlue, but it is also a member of the Oneworld alliance, which opens up the possibility of even more destinations.

JetBlue

JetBlue flies to more than 100 cities within the U.S., Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America. It also flies to London, Paris, Dublin, Edinburgh and Amsterdam.

Within the U.S., JetBlue's route network can lead to odd routings. For example, traveling from Nashville, Tennessee, to Miami — which should be a short trip — typically requires a layover in New York or Boston.

JetBlue's hubs include:

  • Boston.

  • Fort Lauderdale.

  • Long Beach.

  • Los Angeles.

  • New York-John F. Kennedy.

  • Orlando.

  • Washington-Dulles.

Although JetBlue is not part of an alliance, it partners with a handful of airlines to earn and redeem points and, in some cases, reciprocate benefits. These partners include Hawaiian Airlines, Singapore Airlines, IcelandAir, Qatar Airways and more.

American Airlines

American is one of the largest airlines in the world. Not including its international partners, American’s network flies to more than 350 destinations in more than 60 countries. Additionally, as part of the Oneworld alliance, the airline and its partners serve as many as 900 destinations in more than 170 countries and territories.

The top airport hubs served by American Airlines include:

  • Boston.

  • Charlotte.

  • Chicago-O’Hare.

  • Dallas-Fort Worth.

  • London-Heathrow.

  • Los Angeles.

  • Madrid.

  • Miami.

  • New York-John F. Kennedy.

  • New York-LaGuardia.

  • Philadelphia.

  • Phoenix.

  • Raleigh.

  • San Antonio.

  • San Francisco.

  • Washington-National.

Reliability

Winner: American Airlines

While JetBlue has a better track record for handling luggage, American comes out on top when it comes to flight cancellations and delays.

JetBlue

Between July 2022 to July 2023, JetBlue’s reliability ratings were fairly middle of the road when compared to other airlines.

The airline had a tarmac delay rate of 0.54 out of every 10,000 flights and canceled 1.88% of its flights — which is about the average compared with other major carriers. Regarding delays, its flights arrived on time just 68.44% of the time, and it mishandled baggage for 0.66% of passengers.

American Airlines

American, on the other hand, was one of the top four performers when it came to on-time flights in the same time period, with 78.03% of flights arriving on schedule.

Additionally, the airline canceled 1.68% of flights and experienced just 0.11 tarmac delays per 10,000 flights. However, the airline didn’t perform as well when it came to baggage handling: 0.87% of passenger bags were mishandled.

Extra fees

Winner: JetBlue

Based on NerdWallet’s analysis of airline fees, JetBlue has lower fees on average than American Airlines.

JetBlue Airlines

For flights within the U.S., Latin America and the Caribbean, JetBlue charges $35 for the first checked bag and $50 for the second bag on most tickets when you add bags to your reservation at least 24 hours out from departure. Bag fees go up by $10 for any bag added to your reservation within 24 hours of departure.

Fees for the first checked bag are waived if you purchase a Blue Plus or Mint ticket, are a Mosaic member or hold an eligible JetBlue credit card. Fees for the second checked bag are waived if you purchase a Mint ticket or are a Mosaic member.

Do keep in mind that Blue Basic domestic fares don’t come with a free carry-on bag and you can only bring a small personal item — unless you’re a Mosaic member.

American Airlines

American Airlines charges $40 for the first checked bag ($35 if prepaid online) and $45 for the second checked bag. The first checked bag is complimentary in a variety of circumstances, including for most American Airlines credit cardholders as well as first, business or premium economy ticket holders.

Many elite status holders also receive waived baggage fees, including AAdvantage Gold or higher, Oneworld Ruby or higher and JetBlue Mosaic members.

Airline loyalty programs

Winner: American Airlines

When it comes to comparing JetBlue versus American's loyalty programs, AAdvantage beats out TrueBlue by a narrow margin.

With AAdvantage, you can redeem miles for flights on American Airlines and its Oneworld partners, its elite levels offer more value and there are a wider range of credit cards available.

JetBlue TrueBlue

With the JetBlue TrueBlue loyalty program, members earn points by flying, spending on a JetBlue credit card and participating in eligible partner activities. You can also pool points with up to seven family members or friends to quickly collect points toward your next trip or pay with a combo of cash and points.

Points can be redeemed for a relatively fixed value as award flights are based on the cash price of a ticket. NerdWallet values JetBlue points at 1.5 cents each. TrueBlue points never expire and they can be redeemed at any time for any available seat.

JetBlue expanded its Mosaic elite status program to four tiers in 2023: Mosaic 1, Mosaic 2, Mosaic 3 and Mosaic 4. The expansion from two to four tiers adds more benefits for Mosaic members who wouldn’t have reached Mosaic+ status on the old tiered system.

JetBlue also introduced Perks You Pick, which allows members to select certain benefits, like bonus points or a pet fee waiver, when they reach Mosaic status and each time they level up.

One of the biggest and best perks of Mosaic status — reserved for JetBlue's biggest spenders and best customers — is a credit for four complimentary seats on BLADE helicopter transfers between Manhattan and New York-John F. Kennedy or Newark airport.

JetBlue credit cards

JetBlue offers two personal cards and one business card from Barclays. The two personal cards offer a welcome bonus with a low minimum spending requirement, and all cards include benefits like a 50% discount on inflight purchases, no foreign transaction fees and bonus points on JetBlue purchases.

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

  • JetBlue Plus Card: Earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases and paying the annual fee in full, both within the first 90 days, with the JetBlue Plus Card.

  • JetBlue Business Card: Earn up to 60,000 bonus points! Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 90 days. Plus, earn 10,000 bonus points when a purchase is made on an employee card in the first 90 days.

American Airlines AAdvantage

Members of the AAdvantage program can earn miles by flying on American or its partner airlines, spending on a co-branded credit card or spending on shopping, dining and other partner activities.

AAdvantage miles generally receive the most value when redeemed for flights on American or its partners. NerdWallet values AAdvantage miles at 1.7 cents each, but you can generally receive much higher value when redeeming for premium class international flights.

There are four published levels of AAdvantage elite status, ranging from Gold to Executive Platinum. At the very top is ConciergeKey, an invitation-only elite status that is reserved for the airline’s best customers.

It's tougher to earn Gold elite status than it used to be, since American increased the number of Loyalty Points needed to earn it. But the airline also made a few other changes, such as new Loyalty Point rewards that let you earn and choose perks starting at 15,000 points.

American Airlines credit cards

American offers more credit cards than JetBlue, including the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®, which waives the annual fee the first year.

In-flight experience

Winner: JetBlue

JetBlue is NerdWallet's choice as the best airline for onboard entertainment, in addition to the most comfortable first class experience. When you compare American Airlines versus JetBlue economy seats and comfort, there is no competition.

JetBlue Airlines

JetBlue offers one of the best in-flight experiences of any domestic airline. Whether you want to chat online with friends or catch up on work emails, JetBlue has free, high-speed Wi-Fi available at every seat from gate to gate on every plane.

And unlike some airlines that require you to bring your own device, JetBlue has seat back screens for every passenger with movies, live DirecTV, SiriusXM and more. It also offers the most legroom in coach of any domestic airline.

Plus, JetBlue offers Mint service for premium travelers on select coast-to-coast, Caribbean, Latin America and transatlantic flights. Each Mint Suite offers a fully lie-flat seat, a sliding door for privacy and direct aisle access.

American Airlines

In economy class on American, you’ll get the usual perks like free snacks, beverages and entertainment, but Wi-Fi costs extra.

However, if you can spring for the good seats, the flight experience is much improved. There are roomier premium seats in the main cabin, and business and first class seats offer even more spacious seating. There’s also lie-flat seating available in first class on select flights and aircraft.

All passengers can enjoy free entertainment by streaming movies, TV shows and music, but you'll need to bring your own laptop or tablet, as there are no seat back screens.

JetBlue vs. American recapped

In the competition of JetBlue versus American Airlines, American comes out on top.

That said, if premium amenities and a first class experience are what’s most important to you, then it may be worth sticking with JetBlue. But on most other factors, like flight networks, reliability and the ability to earn and redeem miles with Oneworld partners, American takes the lead.

There are also more credit card options with American to earn miles and receive benefits, including a premium card that comes with airport lounge access. Plus AAdvantage members have the ability to maximize their rewards by redeeming them for outsized value with international premium cabin tickets.

Sure, JetBlue may be the better option on some routes, but American offers more reward value overall and can fly its members to far more destinations around the world.


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 2024, including those best for:

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