JetBlue just became the first major US airline to charge $30 for a checked bag, and the move could spur other carriers to do the same

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JetBlue

  • JetBlue Airways will now be charging $30 for a first checked bag, making them the first major U.S. airline to charge this amount.
  • “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,” a JetBlue spokesperson said in a statement to Business Insider.
  • This decision is another example of an industry-wide practice of hiking ancillary fees known as “unbundling.”

JetBlue Airways will now be charging $30 for a first checked bag, making them the first major U.S. airline to charge this amount.

The change in price begins for tickets purchased on Monday, August 27.

In a statement to Business Insider, JetBlue spokesperson Doug McGraw said, “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. 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.”

According to the airline’s website, JetBlue also increased the charge of the second checked bag from $35 to $40 and for a third piece of luggage from $100 to $150. The $30 first checked bag fee will be a $5 increase over the previous price of $25. Some JetBlue passengers, like those have purchased more expensive fares or have reached a specific loyalty program level, may be exempt from these fare hikes.

According to Bloomberg,Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, and United Airlines all charge $25 for the first bag and $35 for the second, with fees for the third piece of luggage varying. Southwest Airlines Co. is the only large U.S. airline that doesn’t charge for one checked piece of luggage.

USA Today reports that JetBlue will also be hiking their changing fee for Blue and BluePlus customers, from $150 maximum to $200.

JetBlue’s decision to raise charges on the baggage fee and change fee is not the first time airlines have chosen to increase costs of ancillary fees. This industry practice is known as unbundling.

Unbundling is the practice of separating various costs of services like baggage check, security check, seat assignments, meals, wi-fi use, and early boarding into their own price points. In short, charging little fees for different elements of travel. Unbundling first began in the late 2000s when airlines recognized the necessity of gaining extra revenue to counteract the higher price of crude oil, which had hit $132 a barrel in the summer of 2008.

According to Bob Mann, President of RW Mann & Company, an airline analysis firm with over 40 years of experience in the industry, American Airlines was the first to charge $20 for a baggage check.

“With that out of the box pretty much everybody else did it,” Mann said. “It was the first big gasp of how to get unbundling started.”

Today, JetBlue has decided to continue the practice, as they are now the first major U.S. airline to cross the $30 for a baggage check threshold.