JetBlue Begins Surge Pricing for Checked Bags

Mike Powers

This article originally appeared on Jalopnik.

Checked bags are big business for airlines. In 2022 airlines made nearly $30 billion just off checked bag fees alone. Apparently those billions in fees aren’t enough for some airlines, as JetBlue announced that it’s introducing surge pricing for checked bags, and it’s all because the company says it has to pay more for wages and jet fuel.

First spotted by Fortune, the fees were added to JetBlue’s site. According to the site, the surge pricing will be active during high travel times, which JetBlue has determined will run from the second half of April through June 20th, and then from June 20th through Labor Day. Surge pricing then won’t appear again until Thanksgiving, when it will run on through the holiday season in the second half of December.

As usual with surge pricing, its variable — and highly unpopular with customers. Just ask Wendy’s. JetBlue’s surge prices will differ depending on a few variables, including things like a passengers destination and their ticket price. Usually during non peak times, JetBlue charges $35 for a checked bag on a basic fare ticket. But that fee is only $35 if the passenger paid the fee 24 hours before their flight. Under surge pricing it’s a little messier, as Fortune explained using the example of someone flying during Thanksgiving.

…if they were flying during Thanksgiving week and checked luggage two hours before the flight, it would run them $50 for the first bag and $70 for the second. Fees also differ based on the traveler’s destination, their JetBlue membership level, the ticket price, and the exact weight of the luggage.

We all know this won’t go over well with passengers. Maybe they’ll feel sympathy for why the airline is doing it, as it explained in a statement to Fortune:

While we don’t like increasing fees, we are making these adjustments to help get our company back to profitability and cover the increased costs. By adjusting fees for added services that only certain customers use, especially during periods of highest demand for limited space in the cargo hold, we can keep base fares as low as possible.

This is a corporation we’re talking about, and nothing is ever as it seems. An aviation expert for the National Consumers League explained to Fortune how fee hikes make it hard for airline customers to shop around and compare prices. “You can’t go on to Expedia or Kayak or Google flights and do an apples-to-apples comparison of the fees of different airlines. That’s not by accident,” he said. He also mentioned that airlines will also raise fees instead of ticket prices as a slick way to save on their tax bill which should surprise no one.

While the surge pricing has already started, JetBlue mentioned that customers who booked their flights before March 22nd “will be exempt from the dynamic pricing.”

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