Checking your bag on JetBlue is about to get more expensive

Author: Jordan Valinsky, CNN Business
Published: Updated:

JetBlue Airways is hiking its checked baggage fees for the second time in two years.

Passengers will have to pay $35 for their first checked bag, up from $30. A second checked bag will cost $45, up from $40.

JetBlue (JBLU) announced the changes on its website and said that travelers who book flights from Thursday on, must pay the new prices. Flights booked prior to that date will pay $30 and $40 for first and second checked bags, respectively.

JetBlue said it will offer a $5 discount to passengers who add a checked bag online or through its app at least 24 hours before the flight. But passengers who check a bag after the check-in window opens, which is 24 hours before a flight departs, will pay the new prices.

“By incentivizing customers to select their checked bag option ahead of time using our website or award-winning mobile app, we can reduce transactions in the airport lobby and improve the customer experience,” the airline said in a statement.

The baggage fees don’t apply to all JetBlue passengers. For the airline’s credit card holders and passengers who pay more expensive fares, checked bags are included in the price.

The airline debuted new fare classes in November, introducing a new basic economy fare that forces lower-paying passengers to board last and choose their seats when they check-in. The airline said it expects to generate an additional $150 million in revenue from this fare class, which is called Blue Basic.

JetBlue collected $270 million in baggage fees during the first nine months of 2019, according to the Bureau of Transportation statistics. That was a 14% increase from the same period a year earlier. Fourth-quarter figures haven’t been released yet.

Overall, the US airline industry collected $4.3 billion in baggage fees in the first nine months of 2019.

Airlines typically follow each others’ lead when it comes to hiking baggage fees. Major US airlines, like Delta Air Lines (DAL), United Airlines (UAL) and American Airlines (AAL), last increased the prices of the first checked bag from $25 to $30 in 2018. Their fees remain unchanged.

The increase in baggage fees comes as the airline industry completes 10 consecutive years of profitability. The International Air Transport Association, a global industry group, predicts that airlines will record total profits of $29.3 billion in 2020 — more than $5 billion it predicted for 2019.

The organization said airlines’ profits have been resilient despite multiple complications, including slowing economic growth, trade wars, and Brexit uncertainty.

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