In late August JetBlue raised many of their fees, including checked bag fees. Among other changes, they raised the cost of a first checked bag on a domestic itinerary from $25 to $30. Not surprisingly, United, American, and Delta, all followed pretty quickly.
It looks like a fifth US airline will now be raising checked bag fees. Alaska Airlines has announced that they’ll be increasing checked bag fees for tickets purchased or last exchanged as of December 5, 2018.
Here’s a chart with Alaska’s new baggage fees:
With these changes, we’re seeing the cost of a first checked bag increased by $5 (from $25 to $30), the cost of a second checked bag increased by $15 (from $25 to $40), and the cost of a third checked bag increased by $25 (from $75 to $100).
Note that both The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Card and The Alaska Airlines Visa® Business Card offer a free checked bag on Alaska flights for you and up to six other guests on the same reservation. Picking up one of these cards could be a good option for Alaska flyers looking to avoid higher baggage fees. In addition, cardholders also receive 20% back on Alaska Airlines inflight purchases, including food, beverages, and wifi, and 50% discounts on Alaska Lounge day passes, bringing down the cost from $50 to a very reasonable $25. So, if you fly Alaska regularly, these cards could be a good option to save even more.
I’m not surprised to see Alaska following the lead of other airlines, though it is interesting how they waited a while to announce it, and are even giving significant notice (while in the case of other airlines the new policy was instituted effective immediately).
Alaska Airlines has a problem right now. The airline used to be a favorite on Wall Street, but since their takeover of Virgin America, Alaska’s stock hasn’t been doing great. The issue probably isn’t just the questionable/expensive takeover, but the fact that Alaska Airlines tries to have a backbone, and unfortunately that often doesn’t pay.
While American, Delta, and United have been generating all kinds of money through fees, Alaska Airlines has avoided introducing basic economy, and has even had significantly more reasonable change fees. The airline wants to do the “right” thing, but unfortunately that doesn’t always pay off.
As of this June, the airline increased change and cancelation fees on many types of tickets, which is a sad move that’s still not surprising. The airline has indicated that they plan to introduce new “saver fares” soon, which would probably be similar to basic economy.
It’s not surprising to see Alaska follow other airlines when it comes to these changes. It’s sad that this is the case, but the reality seems to be that trying to run a “good” airline just often isn’t as profitable as running a Scott Kirby-esque airline. Sad!