JetBlue's all-you-can fly airline pass returns, so deploy the inflatable slide

The tail of a JetBlue planeWith Steven Slater now threatening to unleash his diva fits on the TV viewing public, funky set-price airline JetBlue is providing America with plenty of goofy headlines. Time for one more: From Sept. 7 to Oct. 6 (30 days), it's bringing back its all-you-can-fly pass.

The pass costs $699, which is $100 more than it cost at this time last year. A scaled-down version, which won't allow flights on Fridays or Sundays, is $499. The pass will be on sale until Monday, Aug. 23, when users can start reserving flights with it, but I wouldn't wait until then to book, since last year, it sold out a day early.
Just as it was last year, the pass is still good mostly as a conversation starter. With the kids going back to school and summer season ending, fares are relatively low at this time of year anyway, so you'd have to ride the heck out of the pass to make it pay off.

Last year, during the pass' first go-round, I was on the radio program of travel sage Arthur Frommer, and we hashed out the numbers. We found that to make it worth the money it would take two round-trip flights of medium to long length during the month the pass is valid.

The $100 increase makes that analysis even more true this year. For example, a round-trip flight from New York to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on JetBlue is $197. A round-trip flight from New York to San Francisco in early October would be about $420 right now. Taking both of those flights would still leave $80 to make up, unless they were taken on the restricted $499 pass, in which case they'd save you $120.

If you have that kind of time off in September and October, by all means get packing.

There are caveats besides the day exclusions of the limited pass, but they're fair. You must have a frequent flier account with the airline, but that's free. Taxes and fees are included except for the airline's flights to Puerto Rico or other countries. Don't try booking lots of flights and then not taking them either, or you'll incur a $100 penalty each time and the pass will be suspended. But thoughtfully, people who buy the pass do receive a set amount of frequent flier points.

To check it out or to book, click here.

Update: The $699 unrestricted, unlimited pass has sold out. There are still some 5-day all-you-can-jet passes available (which exclude Friday and Sunday travel), but if last year is a guide, those will sell out soon, too.

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