What a bizarre move by JetBlue Airways, which has differentiated itself over two decades by not nickel-and-diming its passengers. The airline was the last of the major U.S. carriers to charge a checked bag fee — it only added one in 2015 — and now it wants to raise it? Let's hope this doesn't stick.
The $5 increase is effective for trips booked starting Monday. JetBlue also increased the charge for a second checked bag by $5 to $40 and for a third piece to $150 from $100, according to the airline’s website.
The move marks an effort to offset slowing ancillary revenue, rising fuel prices and other increased costs as the New York-based carrier slows its growth. Executives said in July that they were planning changes to grapple with the squeeze on profit.
“As a matter of good business, we constantly review and adjust our ancillary pricing to ensure a healthy business,” said JetBlue spokesman Doug McGraw.
Delta Air Lines Inc., American Airlines Group Inc. and United Continental Holdings Inc. charge $25 for the first bag and $35 for the second. Fees for a third piece of luggage vary. Southwest Airlines Co. is the only large U.S. airline that doesn’t charge for a single checked suitcase.
JetBlue began charging for checked bags in 2015 as part of the first major makeover of its fare system, after investors pressured the carrier to improve returns.
Passengers of the airline who purchase more expensive fares or have reached a certain loyalty program level can be exempt from checked-bag fees.
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Photo credit: JetBlue Airways is raising the cost of a first checked bag by $5. The airline is less profitable than many of its U.S. competitors. Bloomberg