JetBlue Adds First Checked Bag Fee and Simplifies Fares With a Complicated Chart

JetBlue has introduced a new fare structure that includes first checked bag fees. That leaves Southwest as the only major US airline without checked bag fees (although Southwest has played around with this).

JetBlue had announced in the fall that they’d be adding seats and giving customers less legroom. And let’s not forget that with checked bag fees JetBlue should see some tax benefits. Apparently all that kept them from launching this to date was the IT.

Here’s their new fare tiers:

First checked bag is $20 online or at the kiosk, $25 with the assistance of a person at the counter. Second checked bag is $35.

‘Blue Plus’ gets first checked bag free, a few more bonus points for booking through their website, and slightly lower change fees. If you know you’re going to check a bag then this should usually price out better than paying for the bag a la carte.

JetBlue doesn’t expect a customer backlash, they answer (more or less) ‘suck it, other airlines are worse.’

I think backlash is a very interesting phrase. I’m not going to call it backlash. Honestly, one of the reasons that we’ve focused on launching this with all the things about JetBlue experience is, Jet Blue’s product is still going to be the best product in any airline.

Their comparison point, though, is an airline like Frontier or unnamed Spirit or Allegiant.

The one thing we see on most other airlines is that you walk in the door, you think you’ve got a $9 fare, at the end of the day you’ve paid $120. It’s only after you click the $9 and you see all the add-ons. The add-on could be things like get me a ticket, get a seat assignment, carry a bag on, things like that. It’s a bit of a bait and switch. The goal that we wanted was to make sure that when I look at the display on the website and you look at Blue, Blue Plus and Blue Flex, the price you see is everything in that bucket. So it includes all of these elements. There are no add-ons after the fact.

…We just saw an announcement that Frontier is going to 186 seats on an A320, and 230 seats on an A321. The world is going in a very dramatic direction toward more and more commoditization. That’s not where we’re going.

Of course that isn’t quite right since there are add-ons now — checked bag fees. And of course they upsell extra legroom and airport priority.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. “Jet Blue’s product is still going to be the best product in any airline.”

    That’s correct, except that I’d put JetBlue in a tie with Virgin America now that bag fees have been added.

    Also, I like JetBlue’s longstanding concept of lower change fees 60 days or more ahead. I think JetBlue would capture more sales if the change fees were zero for changes made 60 days in advance. Southwest has shown that such a policy locks the customer into flying your airline to use the leftover funds. Before long, that customer develops a habit of buying from your airline to the exclusion of all the others.

  2. Love the interview, particularly the “much anticipated” part. Really a shame they’re moving farther from the vision that made them, though.

  3. Wow this is horrible. At least they are up front about it and not saying it is designed to save people money. I have been pricing out JetBlue flights and the fare that has been the same for weeks and included a free checked bag is now the “Blue” fare with no checked bag. So it is essentially a $15 price increase to get the same thing.

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