JetBlue To Charge $20 For Second Checked Bag

JetBlue announced its first quarter results today and while things aren’t as bleak as they are over at United Airlines, the discount carrier said that it was struggling under the weight of its fuel bill and was going to modify its baggage check policy in order to remain competitive with other airlines.

Your first checked bag will remain free, but a $20 service fee will be assessed for a second bag starting June 1, 2008.

“We have found that a majority of our customers check only one bag, and with this new policy, customers who check extra bags may continue to do so for a nominal fee designed to offset the extra fuel required to transport the extra bags, which will help us maintain our competitive fares for all our customers,” said JetBlue’s CEO David Barger.

JetBlue Announces First Quarter Results (Press Release) [JetBlue]
(Photo:meghannmarco)

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  1. picardia says:

    Though I am avidly pro-consumer on this board, I always have to wonder who the heck needs to check two bags (in addition to the one or two carry-ons) to go anywhere save perhaps on safari. I travel solely with carry-ons for any trip lasting one week or less; I’m currently trying to figure out if I can do the same for my upcoming two-week trip — I’d be sure I could do it, if I didn’t have to pack hiking boots. Seriously, WTF are people carrying with them?

  2. Gryfon19 says:

    Picardia – I can think of two items that would constitute traveling with a second piece of checked luggage: snowboard/skis and golf clubs. Either one of those are a legitimate 2nd checked luggage. And if the amount of 2nd luggage pieces being checked is small, how does it really cost the airline $20 (nominal?) in fuel for that 2nd piece of luggage?

  3. missdona says:

    @picardia: I have to travel to Asia for a month this fall. I’ll be checking two bags and probably shipping things.

    Seriously, I need about 2 weeks of work and casual clothes, shoes and accessories, which can easily fill two bags. Not to mention that I have to check toiletries due to the 3oz rule.

  4. FLConsumer says:

    It doesn’t cost the airline $20. For crying out loud it’s only $18 for me to FedEx 70 lbs to my destination…and saves me from having my bags rifled through by TSA/ramp rats.

  5. wring says:

    do they have international flights? cus it doesn’t make sense to only bring 1 checked bag on an international flight.

  6. ffmariners says:

    @FLConsumer:

    …economies of scale. They charge $18 AND ship air containers full of packages. And $18 for a bag of things you would take on an airplane? You are most likely talking ground shipment now. Overnight for a LETTER is around $16 from Washington DC to Baltimore MD.

    The airline is not afforded that same scale. $20 isn’t that bad of a deal to be able to check the bag and have it travel with you… 3 hours delivery (sonic air!)?!

  7. nekussa says:

    I’ll reveal my utter geekiness here and admit to using two bags when I go to science fiction conventions — I need all my regular gear plus all my costumes and props!

  8. qwickone says:

    @picardia: Some people have a lot of shoes, ok?? JK, My fiance and I are packing one bag for the two of us for the honeymoon (1 week). We’ll each be taking a carry-on as well.

  9. KogeLiz says:

    @picardia: I agree. I am female and have gone on many vacations (back home) for two weeks at a time and always brought one large suitcase and a backpack.

    Jet Blue is pretty much domestic… so, I don’t really have an issue with this way of cutting costs due to fuel.

    As long as I can continue to get good deals on flights.

  10. ffmariners says:

    I just find it hard to believe that everyone here knows how much their budgets have changed since gas prices have increased… yet do not think businesses feel the same squeeze?

    A recent New York Times article stated that every CENT gas prices go up can increase the cost for a major airline up to $300 MILLION dollars.

    I think, unless we want to see more bankrupt airlines, that we should realize that our decisions do have a cost associated with them. I take one bag. You take three bags. If we pay the same I am subsidizing your cost. You SHOULD pay extra!

  11. GotanOrange says:

    @picardia: Oh, to be as thrifty as you. I’m going on a 5-day trip in a bit. I’m checking 2 bags. Deal with it. Some people prefer having fresh clothes and shoes each day, and plan on bringing back items they purchase there. You’re not a rugged mountain man if you pack one pair of slacks and 2 dress shirts. You just smell.

  12. Jon Mason says:

    this is fine with me – i would rather penalise those with 2 bags than raise the prices on those of us who check one bag (or less)…

  13. I guess I can never go skiing again. A ski trip is already expensive as it is, but now the airlines are making it almost impossible.

  14. BuddyGuyMontag says:

    I have yet to fly JetBlue, but I’m looking forward to the experience. In fact, I’m going to fly on JetBlue and Virgin America to compare the experiences.

  15. Xay says:

    @picardia: College students who are attending school a long way from home generally have two bags of stuff. I went to college in Minnesota and whenever I came home to Georgia, I easily filled two suitcases – and this was before the reduced weight limits.

    I could easily see taking two bags on an extended business trip of over a week.

  16. ffmariners says:

    @eastvillageidiot:
    if you are flying to a ski destination, will $20 really kill the vacation?

    And how are airlines making it impossible? The prices of resources are going up…

    Would you blame your butcher if he charged more for steak when beef is 100% more expensive than it was 5 years ago?

  17. Geminijinx07 says:

    @missdona: Having travelled extensively through Asia, my advice – take less, wash clothes and buy while you’re there. 1 month in Asia doesn’t warrant lugging that much luggage and shipping things too (JMO)

    I don’t see a problem with airlines charging as long as I know about it. I can plan around it or budget the extra $25 if I REALLY need the extra bag.

    @ffmariners: I agree completely – we feel the pinch and so do businesses.

    @GotanOrange: 2 checked bags for 5 days? Do you change 3 times a day? Just curious ‘cos I don’t know how to fill 2 bags for 5 days.

  18. bbagdan says:

    Good policy. It is appropriate and fair.

  19. pandroid says:

    This bums me out for snowboarding reasons as well. Snowboarding on a budget is hard to do as it is.

  20. rolla says:

    sooner or later, theyre gonna start charging for the 1st bag too

  21. ClayS says:

    You don’t necessarily have to pay a $20 fee for a second bag. If you buy a first class ticket, there is no additional charge. Oh, that’s too expensive? The airlines can do it anyway you like. Most people prefer things as cheap as possible, and that’s one of the reasons that airline travel is so miserable.

  22. DeafChick says:

    Et tu Jetblue?

  23. GotanOrange says:

    @Geminijinx07: Yes. And Rolla’s right. Once you get comfortable paying extra for a 2nd bag, they’ll start charging to check even one. Fuck that.

  24. Jacquilynne says:

    I kind of wonder how many people who might have otherwise checked two small bags are going to start checking one heavier bag. I realize there’s a single bag weight limit, but I suspect people are going to be pushing that limit more and more often, which can only suck for the backs of the people who have to throw that luggage on the ground and run over it with a truck.

  25. khiltd says:

    I’d be fine if it were $100 for snowboarders and golfers.

  26. GotanOrange says:

    @khiltd: Of course you would be. You’re probably neither.

  27. thirdbase says:

    I’d rather buy a whole new wardrobe at destination than give them the extra 20 bucks.

    OH and Nekussa. Props? Costumes? That’s just sad.

  28. tiatrack says:

    Does anyone know how this works if you bought your tickets for travel a long time ago? Do you still have to pay the fee, even if it didn’t exist when you bought the ticket? Also, is this fee per one-way segment?

  29. dragonvpm says:

    I wonder if they’ll charge people who are forced to check baggage when there’s not enough room in the cabin.

    For the last few years, just about every time I fly, I see one or more people being made to check their carry on bags because the overhead bins are full. Do those people also get charged the $20 for the second checked item?

    I’m a little dubious about how honest they’re being about the reasons for the added charge. It seems to me that if they were really concerned about rising fuel costs, the weight and dimensions of baggage would come in to play more so than the quantity of bags. Heck,it could be a sliding scale. The first 50# of baggage (carry on and checked) are included in you ticket price and they charge a flat fee for each lb over that.

  30. flyingphotog says:

    Is that really the best jetBlue photo in the Flickr pool?

  31. juniper says:

    I’d say it’s really better to up a fee that the consumer can knowingly avoid than raise the ticket prices for everyone, you know?

  32. Geekybiker says:

    When I go on cruises I normally check 2 bags. I need essentially two outfits a day. When I go scuba, I need an extra bag for my equipment.

  33. MaytagRepairman says:

    I usually check 2 bags because I hate lugging my stuff between connections. I also despise these people I see on planes who think that one carry on means everything that one person can carry on and the airlines do nothing to stop them! We are now going to see more and more of these people and it is going to take longer to get on and off the plane. Because of these people I don’t buy the fuel cost argument.

  34. KogeLiz says:

    @GotanOrange: Exactly. And you will just have to pay more money for being a snot.

  35. starbreiz says:

    @picardia: Those of us who are both high maintenance women *and* technology geeks. Admittedly, the two bags I carry are not fully size, but one is dedicated to nothing but toiletries. My suitcase is dedicated to clothes/shoes and chargers for all my gadgets. Then I carry-on my laptop bag and my purse.

  36. lyndyn says:

    @Jacquilynne: That’s exactly what I’m going to start to do – or use a larger carry-on (sorry, @MaytagRepairman). There’s a lower limit on the stuff I can take with me (medical equipment means a small roll-on type suitcase for even one night away from home). I understand that I AM one of “those travelers,” and if necessary, I’ll take my lumps and pay the $20 – JetBlue’s still cheaper than anyone else for most of the destinations I fly, and the bag fee itself is cheaper than many airlines.

  37. LUV2CattleCall says:

    Looks like Mad TV saw this coming!:


    + Watch video

    And Carol Burnett


    + Watch video

  38. kepler11 says:

    so, where are all the users now who shouted that they would never fly UA/CO/DL/NW over the bag fee? Funny, you never hear from them after the others adopt the same policy and they’re forced to eat their words. What airline will they fly now?

    As for the people who gripe that the fee has nothing to do with the cost of carrying the 2nd bag, since when do fees have to have anything to do with the underlying cost? Some fees are simply a deterrent, or calibrated to the demand of the product, or the consumer’s need. There is no requirement for a company’s fees to be related to some actual cost, and it’s a bit silly to try to start guessing, for example, how much it costs them to change your ticket, carry your extra bag, or answer the phone and demand that they set them exactly at those levels. They just have the pricing power to set these fees, and you live with it, or don’t buy the ticket!

  39. theblackdog says:

    Airtran is going to start charging $10 for a second bag

    [pressroom.airtran.com]

    Come on Consumerist, I tipped you off about this almost 2 weeks ago!

  40. Yurei says:

    @picardia:

    Clearly, you’ve never flown at Christmas time and been forced to bring and check two bags because all of your relations demand tribute and satisfaction in the form of material possessions and/or goods.

    And conversely, the opposite when said inlaws (or outlaws, as I like to think of it) insist upon dumping upon you all of their yankee swap gifts (aka: junk) from the previous years as ‘gifts’ which you simply must politely accept and then lug home to make yankee swap gifts out of them of your own for next year.

    And well, I did go away once in South America for 2 weeks and would have liked to have had a second suitcase to keep all my sweaty, smelly dirty laundry in separate from my clean laundry, as there wasn’t much opportunity to do laundry down there, and when it did present itself, it was always very expensive.

    Seriously though, $20 isn’t that bad. That’s usually a lot cheaper than what they charge you if your first “free” checked bag is over weight- $40-60 i’ve found is an accepted going rate on that. I’d rather they charge me for the extra baggage when I occasionally use it then hike the rates on tickets.

  41. pinkyracer says:

    Yeah, but when are airlines going to look at the real weight issue- the passengers?

    Imagine how much fuel they’d save if they charged passengers by the pound, or by the combined weight of passenger & luggage.

    That way, skinny people could bring lots of stuff and overweight people (most of America) would have to pay a lot if they wanted to overpack.

    Might be a way to incentivize healthier living in this country. Unfortunately, no airline will do it.