At Skift, we know more than most that airlines are in business to maximize revenue. But $30 for one checked bag seems a little extreme, no? Let's hope other carriers don't match JetBlue.
Do better, JetBlue Airways.
On Monday, JetBlue — the airline that purportedly seeks to bring humanity back to travel — increased the charge for the first checked bag by $5, to $30, effective immediately. An airline spokesman told Bloomberg, “We constantly review and adjust our ancillary pricing to ensure a healthy business.”
I understand airlines exist to make money. They have shareholders who expect them to wring as much revenue from each passenger as possible. Passengers might prefer otherwise, but for the most part, the U.S. government does not regulate what they charge.
But this strikes me as a lazy and shortsighted move, and one that may hurt JetBlue’s brand. The airline has never led on revenue-producing strategy — it was the last among major carriers to charge for bags — so passengers trust it more than most airlines. Now, customers will be upset when they learn they’ll have to pay more for what was once free.
On bag fees, the industry often moves together. If its competitors don’t follow, JetBlue might walk it back. If other airlines also raise fees, JetBlue probably is calculating no one will remember which carrier raised prices first.
Still, I don’t think this is a smart move. Bag fees not only make customers angry, but they also don’t help an airline operationally. People try to cram more stuff into their carry-ons, and then they insist on wedging them in the bins, whether there’s room or not.
What do you think? Is this a smart move by JetBlue?
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Skift Aviation Business Editor Brian Sumers [email@example.com] curates the Skift Airline Innovation Report. Skift emails the newsletter every Wednesday. Have a story idea? Or a juicy news tip? Want to share a memo? Send him an email or tweet him.
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Photo credit: Passengers wait to speak to an agent at Boston's Logan International Airport. JetBlue has raised the fee for the first checked bag to $30. Reuters / Brian Snyder