JetBlue Increases Checked Bag Fees (Again)

Filed Under: JetBlue

JetBlue is not only following competitors when it comes to negative changes, like the recent introduction of basic economy, but they’re also leading the way when it comes to checked bag fees.

JetBlue raised checked bag fees in 2018

In August 2018, JetBlue raised checked bag fees by $5:

  • The first checked bag increased in cost from $25 to $30
  • The second checked bag increased in cost from $35 to $40

Previously the industry standard was to charge $25 for the first checked bag, so JetBlue really led the way here, and unsurprisingly Alaska, American, Delta, and United, all quickly followed.

JetBlue raising checked bag fees again… with a catch

Effective immediately, JetBlue is once again increasing checked bag fees by $5:

  • The first checked bag will cost $35
  • The second checked bag will cost $45

But there’s an exception — if customers pay for a checked bag in advance — prior to the online check-in window — the checked bag fees will remain at current levels ($5 below the above amounts).

JetBlue is spinning this as an enhancement in a memo to employees, saying that this will “reduce transactions in the airport lobby and improve the customer experience.”

I love when airlines increase fees in order to improve the customer experience!

JetBlue also adds $25 phone fee

Along with the increased checked bag fees when paying within 24 hours of departure, the airline has now also added a $25 fee for all phone transactions, including booking and changing tickets.

As the change is described:

“This pricing is meant to encourage Customers to take advantage of our website and mobile app and give those Customers who are unable to use them and require phone support the best experience.”

Not that I’m suggesting anyone should take advantage of this if it doesn’t apply to them, but I don’t ever recall an airline listing exclusions like the below for who is subjected to this fee:

Some exceptions to this fee are:

Customers who are physically, emotionally, or cognitively unable to book online. For example:

  • Tremor in hands
  • Physical effects of a stroke
  • Anxiety
  • Learning disability

Is this as simple as telling the phone agent you have one of those conditions, or…?

Bottom line

It’s obviously unfortunate to see checked bag fees in the US increase even further, as I imagine we’ll likely see other US carriers follow as well, just as they did the last time JetBlue raised fees.

In general I don’t think it’s unreasonable that airlines charge less for “buying” checked bags in advance than at the airport:

  • The transaction costs are lower
  • There’s some amount of breakage, given that not everyone will bring as many bags as they purchased

As much as we hate changes like this, the reality is that airlines can get away with them. While outright fare increases rarely work (the market doesn’t support it), ancillary fees are a different story, from checked bag fees to change fees.

Comments
  1. Yeah, I get anxious when I have to call an airlines (or 99% of companies) because normally it’s an issue that shouldn’t have needed a phone call. So I guess I can claim an exception?

  2. JetBlue likes to act as though they’re somehow better and that their passenger experience is more divinely pleasant than the legacies and other carriers, walking on some perceived high ground. Complete baloney. Their on-time percentage is by far the worst of major US airlines, they continue to raise fees, “but people will continue to fly us because we have funny names for our cabins and frequent flyer programs.”

    No thanks, I was born at night but not last night. You’re essentially Spirit without yellow aircraft. Southwest eats your lunch in literally everything.

  3. I want to like JetBlue, but stuff like this, and the fact that they penalize you (50% fewer points) if you book through a corporate portal makes it hard to book them on a consistent basis

  4. This is what happens when you add crap airline executives from Spirit to your board… that said I never check bags when flying Jetblue in the first place, but this definitely won’t make people happy.

  5. Not a big change. Beforehand, it was $30 to check a bag at the airport, but $29 if you check a bag in advance. Now, it’s $35 to check a bag at the airport but $30 if you check a bag in advance.

  6. You can pay checked luggage fee at the kiosk without any employee assistance. So, it seems like this is just a revenue enhancement disguised as a ‘cost savings’.

    They compete with WN route by route from my home airport. Sounds like they are starting to lose that battle.

  7. Upping fees out of need (e.g., badly losing money and need to stay afloat) is one thing. But doing it out of greed- just because they can – is terrible.

    Also this will also shift the cabin/cargo baggage even further. Planes will take more time to board; and overhead bins will fill up quicker.

  8. Um, can you say collusion? I knew something was going on when American Express and other branded airline credit cards all started raising their CY 2020 annual fees. They knew that their card benefits of a first / second checked bag free would soon be worth more to the consumer, and so they felt perfectly justified in raising their annual card fee. Yeesh!!!

  9. Yeah this is how people end up with 24″, 40 lbs carry ons that block aisles and end up delaying departures. Great job!

  10. Definitely a move in the wrong direction. As a New York passenger, I always preferred JetBlue and frequently travel with a bicycle, which was $50 each way when legacy carriers were charging $100 or $150.

    Imagine my total shock last year when JetBlue increased the bicycle fee to $100 each way and Delta and AA reduced bicycles in 2019 to a regular checked bag fee (United still charges $150 each way).

  11. “JetBlue is spinning this as an enhancement in a memo to employees, saying that this will “reduce transactions in the airport lobby and improve the customer experience.”

    So, lying.

  12. If JetBlue’s website is top notch, $25 fee is justifiable. However, the website is pretty horrible especially when you need to change. Not to mention they are often down for maintenance. I hope customers will speak loud enough for them to eliminate the fee.

    Carfield

  13. In principle it doesn’t matter to me on three counts, since I almost never check baggage, have never flown JetBlue, and have credit cards that would prevent baggage fees if I’d ever choose to check something on the airlines I do fly.

    I do have concerns about collusion, though, both among the airlines and between airlines and banks. My guess is the other major carriers all knew this was coming, all were fine with JetBlue “going first”, and all (but Southwest) will conveniently get something similar implemented within weeks, if not days. We desperately need more competition.

  14. Shocker! JetBlue announces yet another fee increase!

    So, now that the airline is screwing its flyers with a frequency and fury that’s truly breathtaking in its arrogance and brazenness, which TBH, even for someone as jaded as cynical as I am about how greedy, sleazy, corrupt and dishonest airline managements have become in the present era of cartel/oligopoly, even I was gobsmacked after spending a few hours researching and reviewing JetBlue’s financial data regarding its share repurchases and press releases/news reports about new/increased fees since Dave Barger left the building in Feb 2015.

    GOBSMACKED! Absolutely gobsmacked!

    I mean I always ranted to an extreme (often on purpose just to drive home the point how ridiculous and abusive things now are at our airlines) about how the proliferation of fees to the point long ago went way beyond reasonable and justifiable for what they offered (especially after it became necessary to intentionally manipulate/degrade cabins and/or add even more restrictive/onerous restrictions on fares, etc.

    But, WOW!

    After taking a closer look at JetBlue, and how its rapid fire succession of introducing fees, followed by increasing fees 2015 – present, all I can say is WOW!

    Oh, OK, I’d like to use the long form expression for “WT(‘eff’)” but, alas can’t quite do that!

    So. here goes:

    Just how closely JetBlue’s have super ginormous stock repurchases that began within months of Dave Barger’s departure as CEO in February 2015, btw, the latest of which, just two months ago, JetBlue could not even fund with free cash flow so it borrowed a billion dollars instead! Imagine that – flyers are not just funding those obscenely generous share buybacks at JetBlue correlate with implementation of new fees/increased fees, they’re paying the interest on the $1 billion loan it took late last year to fund the 1st $175 million tranche (of $800 million authorized) in November that was “an accelerated purchase”.

    Now, it would be one thing if yesterday’s fee increase at JetBlue was a one time thing!

    But it’s NOT!

    In fact, cynical and jaded though I may be, even moi was gobsmacked – and I mean gobsmacked! – by the nearly perfect correlation between JetBlue’s super ginormous, obscenely generous stock buybacks/share repurchases.

    In fact, while “obscenely generous” has long been a favorite expression to describe the insanity of these full-on, abject greed grabs that are share repurchases (see now exposed debacle at “McBoeing” as “Exhibit A” on why these share repurchases are every bit as toxic, destructive, ill-advised, irresponsible – and deserving for being illegal as they actually were for decades until Ronald Reagan became President), after just a few hours’ time spent reviewing data tables and articles/press releases for JetBlue’s stock buybacks and announcements about new/increased fees (plus other “profit enhancing initiatives” – cabin densifications, installing smaller loos, not restocking snack baskets as often, not cleaning aircraft as often, plus other [so NOT] “passenger pleasing”/“passenger demanded” product degradations like more confusing fare “families”, that clickbait-y, bait & switch fraud otherwise called “Basic Economy”, etc., after seeing how the stock buybacks & explosion of fees are as if in lockstep, it’s readily apparent that despite the current CEOs claims of “hating to raise fares or fees” but fuel and other increased costs leave him no choice when fare/fee increases are announced, the nifty correlation between the price tag of the airline’s super ginormous, exploding in cost share buybacks are also being announced for authorizations and/or seen as having occurred for hundreds of millions of dollars per SEC filing disclosure in close proximity to each other.

    Truly, the naked greed that JetBlue’s flyers have faced repeatedly since 2015 couldn’t be clearer.

    Think of it less as paying “only for” (whatever bs excuses and fictional “facts” the CEO or JetBlue’s press releases claims as having forced them to turn to its passengers for more lucre) – and more for what the trail of facts reveals as nothing more than a naked greed grab that were the Robber Barrons at JetBlue (and the rest of the pocket picking con artists and charlatans at the other airlines) being honest they’d properly label as a flyer funded “Stock Repurchase Tax”.

    Because at JetBlue, that’s **EXACTLY** what it is.

    Data and additional details are already compiled about share repurchases and announcements of fee additions/increases – but ran out of time to prepare/post on that til another time!

  15. CORRECTING this (previously incomplete) paragraph in the above, as follows:

    “In fact, cynical and jaded though I may be, even moi was gobsmacked – and I mean gobsmacked! – by the nearly perfect correlation between JetBlue’s super ginormous, obscenely generous stock buybacks/share repurchases and the niftily close timing of fee introductions and/or escalations/increases (for the exploding “Share Repurchase Taxes” [er fees/more restrictive fares] and the breathtakingly ginormous share repurchases).

  16. I thought JetBlue has always had a phone booking fee, at least since 2018.

    Regardless, it seems like the phone agents have a decent amount of authority to waive the fee if there’s some kind of valid reason to do so. I had to book by phone once because all 4 of us had a travel bank credit we wanted to use from a previous experience (the website doesn’t let you), and the agent waived the fee with zero trouble.

    Neither of these fees strike me as something the airline is doing as a revenue generator- rather, they seem to be doing it as a deterrent to encourage self service. Now, with the checked bag fee, I don’t really know how much time it really adds during the checkin process if someone just pays at the airport- but I suspect this might be something to help the airline better plan for checked baggage volume. JetBlue ground ops aren’t the best, so perhaps- but this is a job that statistical analysis could do quite well without creating passenger friction. But who knows?

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