On January 16, 2020, JetBlue increased its fee for checked bags. Your first checked bag will now cost $35, increased from $30, and a second checked bag will now cost $45 instead of $40.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that you will never need to pay these increased fees as long as you plan in advance.
It wasn’t that long ago that JetBlue didn’t charge for checked bags at all. They were one of the two holdouts (along with Southwest) not to charge checked bag fees. But ever since they’ve started charging fees, they’re not shy about leading the market pricing higher. In August 2018, they were the first airline to increase their checked bag fees from $25 to $30. It didn’t take long for the other airlines to match the higher prices and now all airlines charge $30 for the first checked bag.
When JetBlue increased the fee, there was no way to get around paying the higher price if you needed to pay for a checked bag. With this newer increase, there’s a way to avoid paying the extra $5.
As per the JetBlue website:
Want to save on checked bag fees? You can add up to 2 checked bags in advance (more than 24 hours before departure) for $5 off each of the first 2 checked bags. Please note that checked bag fees are only refundable if the entire booking is canceled prior to scheduled departure.
As long as you pay for your checked bag before the online check-in window opens (at 24 hours before departure), you’ll save $5 on the first two checked bags. In other words, if you pay in advance, you’ll only pay the old price. If you want until you’re checking-in for your flight or when you get to the airport, you’ll have to pay the extra $5.
Now, it shouldn’t be that hard for you to know if you’re going to have to check a bag or not. People are either on Team Checked Bags or Team Carry-On. Even if you’re waiting for the weather forecast to know if you’re packing jeans or shorts, you should be able to decide a day before your flight.
Now the ULCC carriers like Frontier or Spirit make you pay for your bags when you make your reservation to get the lowest price. Thankfully, JetBlue didn’t take that route.
Ways to avoid paying for checked bags on JetBlue
It’s one thing to avoid paying $35 for a checked bag on JetBlue, but there are ways to not pay for a checked bag at all.
Having the JetBlue Plus Card gets a free first checked bag for the cardholder and up to three additional passengers on the same reservation. If you’re traveling with two people, this benefit alone can make the $99 annual fee worthwhile after only one trip.
If you have an American Express card that provides an airline fee credit, like the Platinum Card or Hilton Aspire, if you select JetBlue as your airline of choice, you can use that money to get the baggage fees refunded. Just make sure to book your ticket first and then go and pay for your baggage fees as a separate transaction. AMEX will not issue a credit if the baggage fee is included with your ticket price, which is one reason I say that AMEX credits are not the same as cash because of all the restrictions put on them.
If you’re a JetBlue Mosaic member, you get two free checked bags, so these fee increases don’t make any difference to you anyway.
The last way to not pay for a checked bag is to book a ticket in Mint class as passengers as they also get two free checked bags.
Raising checked bag fees is never a customer-friendly move. Saying that you’re letting people save by paying in advance is just another way to say you’re penalizing those who wait to pay for their bags last minute. Those are typically the less savvy travelers who don’t read travel blogs and have no idea about this price increase.
If you’re planning on flying on JetBlue and need to pay for a checked bag, make sure to do so before you check-in for your flight, or you’ll end up paying an extra $5 per bag.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary