This airline just increased bag fees to $35, the highest in the U.S.

Jan 16, 2020

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JetBlue Airways today quietly increased checked bag fees for many passengers, giving it the most expensive fee for that service among major U.S. airlines.

You’ll now pay $35 for your first checked bag not only if you’re flying JetBlue’s basic economy, Blue Basic, but also if you are flying either Blue or Blue Extra. You’ll only be able to avoid the fee if you’re flying Blue Plus or JetBlue Mint, have Mosaic status or are a JetBlue cardholder.

You’ll also now pay $45 for a second checked bag if you fall into one of those affected categories. The second-checked-bag fee is also the highest for U.S. airlines, according to TPG’s baggage fee tracker.

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If you want to save on checked bags, you can add up to two checked bags in advance, according to JetBlue. The airline’s website says you’ll save $5 off each of the first two checked bags. The fees are only refundable if your entire booking is canceled before departure.

According to an internal memo obtained by Paxex.aero’s Seth Miller, the airline increased fees to “reduce transactions in the airport lobby and improve the Customer experience.”

JetBlue used to offer every traveler one free checked bag but abandoned that policy a few years ago.

Overweight bags between 51 and 99 pounds cost an additional $150, which is $50 more than the big three airlines charge for bags between 51 and 70 pounds, but $50 less for bags that weigh 71 to 100 pounds. Bags between 63″ and 80 inches, including wheels and handles, also will set you back $150.

If you want to avoid the $5 increase, your best bet is to fly in JetBlue’s premium cabin or keep a co-branded card in your wallet. The airline offers two different JetBlue co-branded credit cards that provide fee waivers for checked bags. Both the JetBlue Plus Card and the JetBlue Business Card allow primary cardholders to check their first bag for free, and this also extends to up to three companions booked on the same reservation.

Related: Airlines collected $2.8 billion in bag fees in the first half of 2019. Here’s how to avoid them

In the first half of 2019, airlines reported an after-tax net profit of $4.8 billion and a pre-tax operating profit of $6.9 billion, according to a report from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Airlines collected $1.5 billion in baggage fees, or 2.9% of total operating revenue, through the end of the second quarter. JetBlue collected $174 million in bag fees in the first half of 2019. American Airlines accounted for half of the $1.5 billion figure, collecting over $668 million in the first half of last year.

Featured image courtesy of Patrick T. Fallon for The Points Guy.

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