One of the most frustrating aspects of air travel are fees, in particular, bags fees. I’ve always despised bag fees because I feel the nickel and dime strategy is punishment for flying. Who visits a destination for any serious length of time and doesn’t require more clothes than can fit in a carry-on?
Additionally, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s annual airline baggage fee report, domestic carriers collected nearly $5 billion in baggage fees in 2018, which was up from $4.5 billion in 2017. The results have not been released for 2019 but I predict it will be in excess $5 billion.
Past Behavior is the Best Predictor of Future Behavior
Welp, it appears we have another checked bag fee increase – care of JetBlue – who just increased their fee from $30 to $35 today.
A year and a half ago, JetBlue was the first domestic carrier to raise the bag fee to $30. United then followed JetBlue’s lead and increased their fees a mere four days later. Ultimately, both Delta and American followed suit soon thereafter.
To put this in perspective, here is JetBlues’ progression:
…and then they did this…
…and now it’s this (effective immediately)….
THE INFLUENCE OF LOW-COST AIRLINES
Many people enjoy bashing the low-cost carriers but I appreciate them for the influence they have on the industry. For example, if Spirit or Frontier did not exist, who knows how much airfares would cost today? Low-cost carriers create a balance.
However, “full service” carriers are becoming more like low-cost carriers daily. For example, Spirit Airlines charges its lowest fees for checked bags online and fees are more expensive at the airport. And they’re even higher still if a customer has to check a bag at the gate.
JetBlue will still charge $30 as long as the fee is paid online in advance (prior to the online check-in window opening).
Ultimately, this could mean fewer transactions will be taking place at the airport, saving time and staff. However, when staff aren’t needed, it results in the decrease of staff
I’m not sure where or when these “enhancements” are going to stop.
This is a cyclical process. Higher checked bag fees influence passengers to bring more onboard. In turn that causes – passengers to take longer to stow their carryons and passengers to gate check their bags when the overhead bins have reached capacity – serious delays.
Interestingly, JetBlue says they’re going to increase their enforcement of carry on rules which will ultimately lead to additional revenue.
What do you make of these developments? Do you pay for checked bags or simply pack everything in a carryon?