JetBlue Raises Checked Bag Fees, Adds “Peak” Bag Pricing

JetBlue Raises Checked Bag Fees, Adds “Peak” Bag Pricing

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In recent months, we’ve seen most major US airlines increase checked bag fees, including Alaska, American, Delta, and United, among others. The truth is that these changes haven’t been unreasonable, for the most part — we’ve largely seen a $5 increase per bag, and it’s the first increase in several years, so in many ways it just covers inflation and wage increases, if that.

Well, JetBlue has just increased its checked bag fees for the second time in recent weeks, and has even introduced the concept of peak and off-peak bag pricing. Let’s cover the details.

JetBlue updates checked bag fees again

As of March 22, 2024, JetBlue has raised its checked bag fees once again, with two new factors determining the pricing:

  • You receive savings of $10 per bag if you pay for your checked bag at least 24 hours before departure
  • There’s now peak and off-peak pricing, where you’ll pay an extra $5-10 per bag if traveling on peak dates; peak pricing applies on nearly half of dates throughout the year, including on holidays, over summer, and more

Let’s take a look at the new pricing within the United States, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Canada. Below you can find JetBlue’s bag pricing if you pay less than 24 hours before departure.

JetBlue checked bag fees

Below you can find JetBlue’s bag pricing if you pay more than 24 hours before departure.

JetBlue checked bag fees

As you can tell, there’s now quite a bit of variability for bag pricing for an identical itinerary. For example, an off-peak first bag paid for in advance would cost $35, while a peak first bag paid for within 24 hours would cost $50.

For context, until recently JetBlue charged a flat $35 for a first checked bag, plus $45 for a second checked bag. As before, many passengers receive free checked bags, including JetBlue Mosaic members, those with a JetBlue Credit Card, and select premium customers, including those traveling in JetBlue Mint.

How JetBlue justifies raising checked bag fees

I think the reason JetBlue is raising checked bag fees is obvious, but I still find the explanation to be quite interesting. Zach Griff quotes a JetBlue spokesperson as saying the following:

The cost of transporting bags has gone up significantly due to increased wages and higher fuel costs, and we remain unprofitable since COVID. While we don’t like increasing fees, we are making these adjustments to help get our company back to profitability and cover the increased costs. By adjusting fees for added services that only certain customers use, especially during periods of highest demand for limited space in the cargo hold, we can keep base fares as low as possible and ensure customer favorites like seatback TVs and high-speed Wi-Fi remain free for everyone.

As you can see, the airline explains that it’s increasing checked bag fees to return to profitability. Generally airlines choose what bag fees to charge based on what they think will maximize revenue and profitability, rather than what’s fair. And what the airline can get away with largely depends on what competitors are doing.

With this new bag pricing model, JetBlue is on the very high end of checked bag fees, and it’s also one of the first non-ultra low cost carriers to introduce peak and off-peak pricing for checked bags.

JetBlue is undergoing quite the transformation. The airline has a new CEO, and part of the company’s turnaround strategy is to increase ancillary revenue. Obviously higher checked bag fees are part of that, but the airline is also doing things like adding new “preferred” seat fees, for regular economy seats closer to the front of the plane.

I’m curious to see how JetBlue’s situation evolves, as the airline has a bit of an identity crisis. JetBlue has historically offered a differentiated economy experience, while not being able to command a revenue premium for it. Now the airline seems to be taking more of a middle ground approach, still having free entertainment and Wi-Fi, plus industry leading legroom, while also increasing fees at the same time, and moving more in line with competitors.

I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad strategy, but I do think the airline needs to also lean into its premium offering, with doing things like installing first class throughout its fleet, given many of the markets in which JetBlue operates. There’s nothing wrong with increasingly trying to segment your customer base, but there has to be a strategy behind it.

Does JetBlue have a bit of an identity crisis?

Bottom line

JetBlue has once again increased its checked bag fees. The airline is charging an extra $10 if you pay for your checked bag within 24 hours of departure, and also has new peak and off-peak bag pricing. The first and second checked bag fees now range from $35 to $70, so that’s quite some variability.

What do you make of JetBlue increasing checked bag fees?

Conversations (20)
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  1. JetBlueFanboy Diamond

    The quote about the raised fees "subsidizing" the free Wi-Fi and personal IFE screens (as well as helping B6 return to profitability, of course) is interesting. That said, I can't help but to think that this cheapens B6's brand. From my armchair CEO perspective, I feel like introducing domestic First Class is a much better way to maximize revenue and return to profitability...with the added bonus of not cheapening the brand.

  2. Iamhere Guest

    So when is considered peak - they haven’t defined. I also expect some customers to argue the bag fees because it is kind of complicated. If the staffs can decide then we are in trouble....

  3. InternationalTraveler Gold

    Peak pricing for checked bags …. If today wasn’t April 2nd already, I though this is an April’s fool joke.

  4. Tom Guest

    I've been noticing JetBlue fares being cheapest in transcon markets, but once you add in the fees for seat selection and bags they are the same as others. Maybe a new strategy to have a teaser price.

  5. Jordan Diamond

    This is a big story, but the more concerning was a brand new Jetblue A321 LHR-JFK losing an engine ( I believe it was a compressor stall) over the Atlantic, and having to float down and divert to SNN. This was the aircrafts FOURTH flight.

    I really wish Jetblue the best.

    1. Chris P Bacon Guest

      When did this happen? Quick Google search doesn't return a story about an engine failure, not even on a JFK-LHR flight. Can you post a link? Thanks

  6. Jerry Diamond

    I haven't checked a bag in years, and I think in 99% of cases it's unnecessary for all travelers. With that being said, $70 for a 2nd bag is insane. Some travelers are going to be rightfully irate.

  7. Brian W Guest

    Get an airline cc and ignore the bag fees or just travel with a carryon. This isnt that big of a deal.

  8. Gentleman Jack Darby Guest

    "Generally airlines choose what bag fees to charge based on what they think will maximize revenue and profitability, rather than what’s fair. And what the airline can get away with largely depends on what competitors are doing."

    I've got to say, although I think you're the hardest workin' man with, most of the time, the best content in the rather sad points-and-miles bloat-o-sphere, the above comment seems to indicate a fundamental misunderstanding of how most...

    "Generally airlines choose what bag fees to charge based on what they think will maximize revenue and profitability, rather than what’s fair. And what the airline can get away with largely depends on what competitors are doing."

    I've got to say, although I think you're the hardest workin' man with, most of the time, the best content in the rather sad points-and-miles bloat-o-sphere, the above comment seems to indicate a fundamental misunderstanding of how most American businesses operate nowadays; specifically, airlines choose bag fess (and all other fees), as well as their poor levels of service, on what they're reasonably sure (and they're generally correct) they can put over on the travelling public. I doubt there was much analysis vis-a-vis JetBlue's competitors; it was most likely a few minutes discussion and an order to implement. It's quite evident most flyers will put up with all sorts of fare shenanigans and atrocious service with nothing more than 'please sir, may I have some more?'

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Gentleman Jack Darby -- Thanks for the kind words... I think. ;-)

      I'm not sure I'm fully following your logic. You're suggesting airlines don't make these decisions based on what competitors are doing? If so, do you think it's a coincidence that five of the biggest US carriers all raised fees within weeks of one another, after not doing so for years?

      You're absolutely right that they do it based on what they "can...

      @ Gentleman Jack Darby -- Thanks for the kind words... I think. ;-)

      I'm not sure I'm fully following your logic. You're suggesting airlines don't make these decisions based on what competitors are doing? If so, do you think it's a coincidence that five of the biggest US carriers all raised fees within weeks of one another, after not doing so for years?

      You're absolutely right that they do it based on what they "can put over on the travelling public," but I think that's driven by the competitive landscape.

  9. George Romey Guest

    Simple, they can't raise fares, which they need to do to return to profitability, so they're doing it with (hopefully for them) by raising after the fact fees. I think other airlines are going to follow. Raising fares squashes demand and airlines need to fill their planes to the gills.

  10. lavanderialarry Guest

    JetBlue is headed into the arms of AA.

    1. Never In Doubt Guest

      Tell us you haven’t been paying attention to what the government’s done with Jet Blue over the last couple years, without saying you haven’t been paying attention to what the government’s done with Jet Blue over the last couple years.

    2. styleonthegothurston Guest

      Yes, it's the government's fault that JetBlue runs a bad business model and squanders assets it has in very desirable places.

    3. Jordan Diamond

      I agree! Or UA. Carl has a plan....just watch.

  11. JustinB Member

    A non-mint first class would be huge for Jetblue. I'm frequently flying LAX-JFK and SLC-JFK and will sometimes fly Jetblue instead of Delta when in LA, but when originating in Salt Lake it's Delta every time. On the morning SLC-JFK flight Delta also restricts most of its FC seats to the J fare class months in advance and it is consistently sold out - SLC-JFK would be a very strong opportunity for Jetblue to introduce...

    A non-mint first class would be huge for Jetblue. I'm frequently flying LAX-JFK and SLC-JFK and will sometimes fly Jetblue instead of Delta when in LA, but when originating in Salt Lake it's Delta every time. On the morning SLC-JFK flight Delta also restricts most of its FC seats to the J fare class months in advance and it is consistently sold out - SLC-JFK would be a very strong opportunity for Jetblue to introduce a regular first class product and i'm sure there are many others.

    1. Brian W Guest

      I agree offering a domestic first seat would seem an easy way to better monetize non mint aircraft. It might work on mint aircraft too being sold as premium economy.

    2. Chris P Bacon Guest

      I pay for the Big Front Seat on Spirit. Priced right, I'd buy it on JetBlue. Problem is, with JetBlue dropping DTW-JFK, I have less opportunity to fly them. Literally just flew DTW-JFK-PBI. Great overall experience. Would do it again, except...

  12. Beyoncé Guest

    jetBlue is just such a ghetto airline.

    1. NG Guest

      I would rather fly on JetBlue than Spirit or United...or even AA for that matter.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Chris P Bacon Guest

When did this happen? Quick Google search doesn't return a story about an engine failure, not even on a JFK-LHR flight. Can you post a link? Thanks

1
Chris P Bacon Guest

I pay for the Big Front Seat on Spirit. Priced right, I'd buy it on JetBlue. Problem is, with JetBlue dropping DTW-JFK, I have less opportunity to fly them. Literally just flew DTW-JFK-PBI. Great overall experience. Would do it again, except...

1
Tom Guest

I've been noticing JetBlue fares being cheapest in transcon markets, but once you add in the fees for seat selection and bags they are the same as others. Maybe a new strategy to have a teaser price.

1
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