U.S airlines have all charged $25 for your first checked bag up until August 27th, when JetBlue became the first US airline to break the $25 barrier. That’s when JetBlue raised the price of the first checked piece of luggage from $25 to $30. Four days later, on August 31st, United also raised their price for the first checked bag to $30. Because of course they did.
It’s disappointing to see JetBlue increase their baggage fees, considering that up until 2015 they didn’t charge anything for your first checked bag. I’m not surprised that United quickly matched the fee increase, as they’re really good at copying what other airlines do, even if it’s not a great idea to begin with.
I’ve read people say that instead of paying these increased fees, they’re not going to check a bag anymore. If you’re the type of traveler who can live out of a carry on bag for a week, good for you. But that’s just not something we’re going to do to save on baggage fees. Luckily, there are other ways to avoid these increased fees.
Get The Airline Co-Brand Credit Cards
The increase in checked bag fees makes the credit cards from United and JetBlue more valuable.
Here’s the baggage fees exemptions that each card provide:
JetBlue Plus Card
The cardholder and up to 3 travel companions on the same reservations, who have purchased Blue fares, will each receive their first checked bag free on JetBlue-operated flights that do not include first checked bag free. All ticket purchases must be made with your JetBlue Plus Card, and the primary cardmember’s TrueBlue member number must be entered at the time of booking.
The annual fee of this card is $99 per year. With a checked bag costing $30, it’s possible to get $240 in value on a round trip if you have four passengers checking one bag each. Even if you just have two passengers checking a bag on a round trip, you’re saving $20 on a single trip.
United Explorer Card
Here’s the baggage benefits when you pay for a United flight with an Explorer card:
The primary Cardmember and one companion traveling on the same reservation will each receive their first standard checked bag free ($30 value, each way, per person) on United-operated flights when the primary Cardmember includes their United MileagePlus® number in their reservation and purchases their tickets from United with their Card. For complete details, please visit united.com/chasebag .
The annual fee for the Explorer card is $95 but the fee is waived for the first year. Since you only get a free bag for the cardholder and one companion, the max you’ll save on a single flight would be $120. Still not bad for a card that’s only $95 a year.
You Could Always Fly Southwest
If checked baggage is important to you, Southwest might be the best choice for you. They allow two checked bags for free. That’s important because even though you can get one checked bag free with the credit cards mentioned above, you’ll need to pay for the second bag. That will be the $40 fee for a second checked bag, not the $30 first checked bag fee.
Southwest didn’t miss the opportunity on Twitter to remind people of this policy with a response to The Points Guy’s article about the price increases.
*cough cough* Did somebody say "Bags Fly Free"? https://t.co/JcO32X4vMz
— Southwest Airlines (@SouthwestAir) August 28, 2018
This increase isn’t going to make a big difference to us because I have the JetBlue Plus card and we don’t fly on United. I can’t see many people changing travel plans because of a $5 increase in checked bag fees. If you have a large family and you check several bags, just make sure to add these fees in when comparing prices to make sure you’re getting the best deal on airfare.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary
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[…] in J.D. Power’s 2018 report Of course, JetBlue recent increased their checked bag fees (but there are ways to get around that) so we’ll see how they do in the standings in 2019. Anyway, even with the recent increase, […]