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