Travel

Southwest Is the Last Major US Airline with Free Checked Bags

Published On 06/30/2015 Published On 06/30/2015

R.I.P. free checked bags on JetBlue.

While the low-cost US airline announced in November it would begin charging checked bag fees, details only emerged Tuesday -- and the company immediately began charging the fees Tuesday, as well, according to Reuters. Previously, all JetBlue customers could check one bag free.

The policy change leaves Southwest Airlines as the sole major US airline that doesn't charge for checked bags, much to the chagrin of everyone who likes not paying for stuff. Southwest allows passengers to check their first two bags for free. 

JetBlue's new luggage policy charges $20 for the first bag when customers pay online or at a check-in kiosk, or $25 at the counter for the airline's cheapest fare class, dubbed "Blue." As USA Today details, the next-highest fare class, "Blue Plus," does not include a checked bag fee, though Blue Plus fares generally cost about $15 more than Blue fares. By hook or online book, you're gonna start paying more. Subsequent higher classes provide more amenities, of course, but come with higher costs.

“Our customers will have the options to buy up to higher-tier fares that include more value in terms of loyalty points, a free checked bag, two free checked bags, more flexibility on change fees,” JetBlue Treasurer James Leddy said, according to Bloomberg. “With the highest bucket, there would be things like refundability.”

To JetBlue's credit, snacks and satellite TV will remain free -- for now. But airlines are businesses. Big ones, in fact. And big businesses need to make money. Baggage fees are one way to do that -- as Reuters points out, US airlines took home $864 million in baggage fees in the first three months of 2015, amounting to 2.2% of all revenue. JetBlue was leaving a lot of money on the table by eschewing baggage fees before. According to Fortune, JetBlue took in only $22 million in the first quarter of the year in baggage fees, while Delta raked in nearly $200 million in that same time span.

But that's not all: JetBlue is prepping to squish more seats into its aircraft, reducing seat pitches and padding. Because more seats equals more money. And much like Wu Tang Clan, cash rules everything around airlines.

Get the money, baggage baggage fees, ya'll.

Ryan Craggs is Thrillist's Senior News Editor. He likes JetBlue's service a lot, so today saddens him. Follow him @ryanrcraggs.
 

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