JetBlue Airways Corp., which for years let passengers check luggage at no charge, became the first major U.S. carrier to bump the fee for a first checked bag to $30.
The $5 increase is effective for trips booked starting Monday. JetBlue also raised the charge for a second checked bag by $5 to $40 and for a third piece to $150 from $100, according to the airline’s website.
The move marks an effort to offset weaker ancillary revenue, rising fuel prices and other increased costs as the New York-based carrier slows its growth. Executives said in July that they were planning changes to grapple with the squeeze on profit.
“As a matter of good business, we constantly review and adjust our ancillary pricing to ensure a healthy business,” said JetBlue spokesman Doug McGraw.
Delta Air Lines Inc., American Airlines Group Inc. and United Continental Holdings Inc. charge $25 for the first bag and $35 for the second. Fees for a third piece of luggage vary. Southwest Airlines Co. is the only large U.S. airline that doesn’t charge for a single checked suitcase.
JetBlue also increased fees for traveling with pets in the cabin and for checking oversize bags and items such as surfboards. The airline adjusted charges to change or cancel tickets as well.
The shares were little changed at $18.61 at the close in New York. The stock has declined 17 percent this year, compared with a 2.9 percent drop for a Standard & Poor’s index of nine U.S. carriers.
JetBlue began charging for checked bags in 2015 as part of the first major makeover of its fare system, after investors pressured the carrier to improve returns.
Passengers of the airline who purchase more expensive fares or have reached a certain loyalty programme level can be exempt from checked-bag fees. (Source:Bloomberg)