JetBlue vs. Delta: Which Is Better?

JetBlue's in-flight experience and fees are checks in the "pros" column, but Delta comes out miles ahead.
Lee Huffman
By Lee Huffman 
Updated

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Nerdy takeaways
  • Delta serves more destinations and countries because it is part of the SkyTeam alliance.

  • Delta has more credit card options than JetBlue, which gives loyalty program members more choice in earning miles through everyday spending.

  • JetBlue is good for Northeast-based travelers who generally fly domestically and want a better experience in economy class.

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Whether you're looking to travel within the U.S. or internationally, you may end up with similar options on Delta Air Lines and JetBlue Airways for your trip.

Both airlines have a lot to offer travelers, but there are distinct differences between their destinations, reliability, fees, loyalty programs and in-flight experience. Before booking your next flight, we’ll compare the pros and cons of JetBlue versus Delta to help you decide what's most important for you.

Routes and destinations

When choosing an airline, one of the major factors is whether it flies to the places you want to visit. Many airlines also allow you to redeem miles for flights on partner airlines to access even more destinations.

Winner for the most destinations: Delta

Delta is the winner in this category because it operates more flights than JetBlue and flies to considerably more destinations. Delta is also a founding member of the SkyTeam alliance, which has 19 member airlines. Travelers can book flights through Delta or its alliance partners to visit cities on every continent (except Antarctica).

JetBlue

JetBlue primarily operates in the U.S., but it has international reach to Central and South America as well as the Caribbean. Recently, it expanded its routes to include the U.K., Ireland, Paris, Amsterdam and Vancouver, British Columbia. In total, JetBlue offers flights to more than 110 destinations and 33 countries.

Delta

Delta currently operates flights to more than 300 destinations in 57 countries. Additionally, its membership in the SkyTeam alliance adds more airline options for travelers, which can be a great deal if you want to spend some SkyMiles. In total, SkyTeam airlines fly to more than 1,000 destinations in 166 countries.

Reliability

The probability that you’ll encounter delays, cancellations or lost baggage is also something to consider when choosing an airline. Understandably, travelers want on-time flights and airlines that won't lose their bags.

Winner for most reliable airline: Delta

Delta achieved the highest reliability score of the nine airlines NerdWallet analyzed, receiving a 5 out of 5 rating during the period from July 2022 to May 2023. JetBlue, on the other hand, received the second-lowest rating, coming in at 1.7 out of 5.

JetBlue

JetBlue performed poorly across every measure NerdWallet tracked. It logged an on-time performance of 68.44% of all flights, and 1.88% of its flights were canceled. Plus, it had the second-highest tarmac delay score of any airline, with 0.54 flights out of every 1,000 sitting on the runway before takeoff.

When it comes to mishandled bags, 0.66% of JetBlue’s checked bags were delayed or missing, a score that put it toward the middle of the pack.

Delta

Conversely, Delta was the best airline for on-time departures by a wide margin. Its planes logged timely departures 83% of the time, and it canceled 1.38% of its flights. The airline experienced tarmac delays of 0.46 flights out of every 1,000, putting it slightly ahead of JetBlue’s score.

It had a middling performance for mishandled bags, with 0.51% of bags arriving late or not at all. On the bright side, if you check luggage on a domestic Delta flight and it doesn't arrive at the carousel within 20 minutes of landing, you can receive 2,500 SkyMiles. Simply fill out this form within three days of your flight.

Fees

Finding a low fare can be easy, but extra fees can quickly balloon the price of your flight. It’s important to understand the kinds of fees an airline charges and how they can affect the total price of your trip.

Winner for the lowest fees: JetBlue

When comparing the average cost of a checked bag and seat selection across nine U.S. airlines, both Delta and JetBlue ranked in the top half. However, JetBlue wins this round because it doesn’t charge for seat selection, even though the cost of a checked bag is slightly higher than Delta’s.

JetBlue

While JetBlue doesn’t charge fees for seat selection (except for basic economy), it may not be the best choice if you want to check a bag. The airline has one of the highest fees for checked bags, charging $35 for the first bag on a domestic flight and $50 for the second, but only if you add a bag to your reservation at least 24 hours out from departure.

Bags added within 24 hours of departure cost $45 for the first bag and $60 for the second.

These fees are waived if you have a Blue Plus (first bag only) or Mint ticket, Mosaic elite status or one of the airline's co-branded credit cards (first bag only). Those on international itineraries between the U.S. and the U.K. or Europe also receive one free checked bag — except for travelers in basic economy.

Delta

Delta ranks in the middle of its competitors when it comes to fees. It charges $30 for the first checked bag, but the fee is waived for those who hold Medallion elite status, most co-branded credit cards and certain premium ticket classes. Compared with JetBlue, which doesn’t charge for seat assignments, NerdWallet calculated an average seat selection fee of $14.17 when flying Delta, including an average cost of $28.33 for a Main Cabin seat up front.

Basic economy

Basic economy fares offer rock-bottom prices, but they often come with restrictions in exchange for the savings. These tickets typically don’t allow passengers to select a seat ahead of time and they’re the last to board the plane. Additional restrictions may include partial or no miles earned, no upgrades and no free checked or carry-on bags.

Winner for the best basic economy tickets: JetBlue

NerdWallet rated both airlines poorly for basic economy tickets, but JetBlue received a slightly higher score of 1.9 compared with 1.0 for Delta.

JetBlue

JetBlue has numerous restrictions on its Blue Basic tickets. Passengers cannot bring a carry-on bag (except for routes between the U.S. and the U.K. or England), and they must pay when checking a bag. Changes or cancellations are allowed for a fee, which ranges from $75 to $200. Blue Basic passengers board the plane last, but they do earn 1 TrueBlue point for every dollar spent.

Delta

Delta's basic economy travelers can bring a personal item and carry-on bag when boarding the plane. However, they also board last, so there may not be space in the overhead bins. Basic economy tickets cannot be changed but can be canceled (minus a cancellation fee). Also, these tickets don't earn SkyMiles or elite status credits.

Loyalty program

An airline's loyalty program rewards travelers for flying on a regular basis. Travelers earn miles toward future travel and elite status credits for enhanced benefits. Co-branded credit cards can help flyers earn miles faster and more easily reach elite status.

Rewards rate

The rewards rate factors in how many miles you earn per dollar spent with the airline and the value of those miles. This category captures the value you get back per dollar from spending money with the airline.

Winner for the highest rewards rate: JetBlue

JetBlue TrueBlue members receive 7.25% back for every dollar they spend, while Delta SkyMiles members get 5.04% back. JetBlue provides the third-highest return on spending, while Delta is in the middle of the pack.

JetBlue

On average, you'll receive 1.5 cents per point when using TrueBlue points for award travel. Travelers typically earn 3x points on the base airfare plus bonuses for holding elite status, paying with a JetBlue credit card and booking directly with the airline. Depending on the fare, you can earn up to 15x points per dollar spent.

Delta

Delta SkyMiles program members receive an average of 1.2 cents in value per SkyMile. While members can book award travel in any fare class, international flights on partner airlines generally offer the greatest value. Main Cabin flights and above earn 5 SkyMiles per dollar, with additional miles earned for elite status and buying tickets with a Delta credit card.

Credit cards

Travelers may opt to get a co-branded credit card from their favorite airline for additional perks. Typically, you'll earn bonus miles on airline purchases and select bonus categories toward free flights. Additionally, these cards often include extra benefits when flying with the airline, like free checked bags, priority boarding and discounts on in-flight purchases.

Winner for the best credit cards: Delta

Delta has the best airline credit cards when compared with JetBlue. Its cards typically offer better benefits and there is a larger variety of cards from which to choose.

JetBlue
Barclays JetBlue Plus Credit Card
NerdWallet rating 

JetBlue has three co-branded credit cards — two personal and one business. On the personal side, the JetBlue Card has no annual fee, while the JetBlue Plus Card charges $99 annually.

Both cards give travelers 50% savings on in-flight purchases and no foreign transaction fees, and the JetBlue Plus Card provides one free checked bag for the cardholder and up to three travel companions as well as an annual points bonus.

Delta

Delta offers four personal and three business credit cards with fees ranging from $0 to $650. With a variety of price points and perks, frequent Delta travelers can choose the card that matches their spending and travel styles best.

Aside from the no-annual-fee Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card, all of its cards include one free checked bag, priority boarding and in-flight discounts. Plus, eligible Delta credit cards provide a 15% discount on the number of miles required to book award travel.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
NerdWallet rating 

The Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card and Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card include an annual companion ticket, while the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card provides complimentary access to Delta Sky Club and Centurion Lounges when flying Delta.

Terms apply.

Elite status program

Elite status provides travelers with additional benefits and recognition when flying, as a way to reward those who travel the most with an airline. Benefits typically include additional rewards, complimentary upgrades and exclusive perks.

Winner for the best elite status program: Delta

When NerdWallet looked at both airlines’ elite programs, Delta received an overall score of 3.6 out of 5 versus JetBlue’s score of 3.2. This score was based on the value of the provided perks at each level and the cost required to earn elite status. Both airlines ranked in the middle of the pack of the airlines we reviewed.

JetBlue

JetBlue recently expanded its Mosaic elite status program to add extra tiers as a way to reward its most frequent fliers. There are now four levels of Mosaic status, starting with Level 1 after earning 50 tiles, which are earned by spending on JetBlue flights, vacations and JetBlue credit cards.

Benefits include perks for each level, starting with priority boarding, seat upgrades and free checked bags. There are additional benefits that members can choose as they elevate their status, which can include tile or points bonuses, priority access to Mint Suites and a pet fee waiver.

Delta

Delta's Medallion program no longer requires members to fly a certain number of flights or miles to reach elite status. Instead, status is earned based on members’ spending. Like JetBlue, there are four elite status levels, ranging from Silver to Diamond. To reach Silver, travelers will need to reach 5,000 Medallion Qualifying Dollars by spending on Delta flights, vacations and its co-branded credit cards.

Delta Medallion elite members receive benefits like complimentary upgrades, waived baggage fees and priority boarding. Those who reach the upper levels can choose from perks like Delta Sky Club membership, Delta travel vouchers and elite status gifts.

Business class

Whether you're flying transcontinental or international, business class tickets offer an enhanced flying experience. In many cases, these tickets include lie-flat seating, premium food and beverages and more privacy surrounding your seat.

Winner for the best business class experience: Tie

Both JetBlue and Delta offer premium business class experiences on select flights. Delta has a slight advantage because it has a large route network, providing more opportunities to book Delta One service.

JetBlue

JetBlue Mint features a fully lie-flat seat and is available on select flights within the U.S., to destinations in Latin America and the Caribbean and on all transatlantic flights. Some flights feature Mint Suites and Mint Studios, which provide enhanced privacy with a sliding door.

Delta

Delta One, the airline’s business class offering on long-haul international and some transcontinental flights, lets passengers enjoy fully lie-flat seats and priority services at the airport. They also receive complimentary access to Delta Sky Club lounges on their day of travel.

On some flights, Delta One includes suites that offer privacy doors and dividers between seats. Domestic Delta One passengers receive a dedicated flight attendant to ensure a comfortable experience.

JetBlue vs. Delta recapped

When comparing JetBlue and Delta, the overall winner is Delta. The airline flies to more destinations than JetBlue, with its SkyTeam partners providing even more options. Delta flights have better reliability for on-time departures versus JetBlue, and it has fewer cancellations and tarmac delays.

The airline also offers a wide variety of co-branded credit cards, including premium options, that allow travelers to earn miles toward elite status while enjoying perks like companion certificates and complimentary upgrades.

To view rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card, see this page.
To view rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, see this page.

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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