JetBlue fliers can say goodbye to checking a first bag for free unless they're willing to pay more for their tickets.
The airline, which serves LAX, Long Beach and Burbank, introduced a new fare structure that means spending at least $15 for a first checked bag. The new fares went into effect June 30.
If you buy a regular Blue ticket, you'll pay $20 at Web check-in or at an airport kiosk and $25 at the check-in counter for a first checked bag. A second checked bag costs $35.
If you buy a Blue Plus ticket, you receive one free checked bag; a Blue Flex ticket, two free checked bags. Each ticket category comes with its own set of rules on cancellations and same-day changes.
Here's an example: If you're taking a red-eye from Long Beach to New York City on Aug. 3, you may purchase a Blue ticket for $320 outbound and $355 return. (There are cheaper options, but they're not nonstop.)
You may buy a Blue Plus ticket on the same flights for $335 and $370, respectively, meaning your single checked bag now costs $15 each way.
If you buy a Blue Flex ticket ($420 and $455, respectively), you'll get to check two bags for free. And you won't incur any fees if you decide to cancel or change your ticket.
Mint passengers, JetBlue's premium service, and members of its TrueBlue Mosaic loyalty program receive two checked bags free. Carry-on items -- one bag and one personal item -- remain free too.
Ed Perkins of Airfarewatchdog thinks the move is a cash grab. He writes:
" 'You've been too good to your customers and not good enough to your stockholders,' " seems to be the mantra. They see those billions of dollars the giant airlines rake in from baggage fees and think JetBlue can strike gold by tapping that lucrative cash flow."