Flag-carrier of our neighbor to the north, Air Canada announced that it would be raising its first checked baggage fee from the standard $25 up to $30 one-way. On flights booked for travel after October 5, 2018, customers can expect to shell out an additional $5 USD/CAD per bag for checked baggage. Sure, an extra five dollars doesn't seem much at first, but with airlines nickel and diming across the board, this fee can add up when traveling with a larger group. Not to mention spending more for your bag to get stacked up and lost amongst a sea of “thousands” of bags like this recent situation in Montreal (YUL) isn’t going to win you any customer satisfaction surveys.
While these moves by Air Canada may not affect the lion share of U.S. travelers, there’s been a rumor that a favorite American carrier is about to follow suit. And it’s probably not who you’d expect. While the legacy carriers like United and American have steadily lowered the bar amongst domestic carriers, this time it’s JetBlue who might raise their prices to match the $30 first bag check-in fee. Quite the jump considering only three years ago JetBlue was boasting its free checked baggage perks amongst its competitors. Second checked bags are also said to incur a $5 increase too, meaning checking two bags one-way will cost $70 instead of the current $60 price tag.
This increase by JetBlue hasn't been officially announced, but some employees have already been warned about this change in a memo and have been given strategies on how to deal with customer frustrations. If true, the rollout will most likely happen by the end of August. Bags aren’t the only thing JetBlue is tinkering with; there are also rumblings that the airline is going to up its change fee on flights to $200 an increase of 50 dollars from the current rate of $150.
These moves are being made to combat rising fuel costs, which is industry speak to cover the airlines behind for just about any reason they raise prices or fees. When fuel goes down in price, customers never end up seeing these newly imposed fees reduced. While I'm surprised it's JetBlue to bump up the standard rate for checked bags in the States, I won't be surprised in the least to see other carriers (not Southwest) to follow along in a matter of time. Get ready to ante up $30 for the privilege of an airline to lose your bag as the new norm. If you want to avoid these fees altogether, now might be a good time to sign up for a co-branded airline credit card that allows for a free checked bag.