JetBlue to charge $30 for first checked bag; will others follow?
JetBlue Airways is raising baggage fees, becoming the first major airline to charge $30 for the first checked bag.
Beginning with tickets purchased Monday, Aug. 27, the airline will charge customers buying its cheapest “Blue” fares $30 for the first bag and $40 for the second. The current charges are $25 and $35, which is standard at other major carriers. A third bag will be $150, up from $100.
The new fees are listed on the airline's online baggage fees chart.
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Also increasing: change fees. JetBlue’s change fees for its Blue and Blue Plus fares vary based on the total fare paid but will now top out at $200 per person per ticket – up from the previous maximum of $150.JetBlue confirmed the changes, saying the effort would help it continue to offer complimentary perks such as in-flight TV and its "Fly-Fi" branded Wi-Fi.
"Customers consistently tell us what they love most about JetBlue: free Fly-Fi on all aircraft, live television and free entertainment, the most legroom in coach, free snacks and great service," JetBlue spokesman Doug McGraw said in a statement to USA TODAY's Today in the Sky blog. "As a matter of good business, we routinely review and adjust our ancillary pricing to ensure a healthy business so we can continue offering the best customer experience of any U.S. airline."
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The move comes amid a spike in airline fuel prices. Airlines are scrambling to cut expenses and boost revenue. The airline's executives talked about boosting so-called "ancillary revenue'' on the airline's earnings conference call in July, noting that it had a series of initiatives underway.
JetBlue was a latecomer to checked-bag fees, which became the norm in the airline industry in 2008. The airline didn't introduce them until 2015.
That move left Southwest as the only carrier offering two free checked bags.
JetBlue isn't alone in trying to boost revenue in the face of higher fuel costs. Southwest Airlines is increasing the price of its EarlyBird boarding fee from a flat $15 to $15, $20 or $25 depending on the route.
United Airlines plans to start charging for certain economy seat assignments, a practice already in place at Delta and American. Discounters Allegiant, Spirit and Frontier charge for any advance seat assignment.
Contributing: Ben Mutzabaugh
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