Those New Bag Fees Are Working Out Great for JetBlue


Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Airlines have been getting stingy about even the simplest of flight amenities lately. It costs money to stretch your legs in roomier seats; meals are no longer free; even requesting a pillow can come at a cost. While the industry’s biggest airlines haven’t yet stooped to the low of charging for boarding passes and drinking water, they are instituting new fees for one crucial component of air travel—luggage. JetBlue was one of the last airlines to hold out on revoking the traditional airline courtesy of allowing at least one checked bag for free, until it too started charging for bags this summer.

And how is that working out for JetBlue? Pretty well, apparently. At a time when the aviation industry as a whole has weak revenues, JetBlue had a profit of $152 million in the second quarter of the year, the company announced Tuesday. Its shares are up more than 40 percent this year, and its stock has climbed 96 percent in the past 12 months. CEO Robin Hayes said that the airline has seen “solid demand across our network.”

Still, steady earnings don’t necessary mean that customers are very happy with JetBlue’s new bag policies. It’s more that they just don’t have much of a choice. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, U.S. airlines raked in more than $864 million from baggage fees in the first quarter of 2015—a whopping sum that the companies are unlikely to want to let go of anytime soon. With the exception of those who are able to take bare-bones flights with minimal luggage, passengers are often stuck with the additional flying fees these days. Southwest Airlines is now the only large airline that offers free checked bags.

But don’t worry: JetBlue still claims to offer the most legroom in coach of any U.S. airline. The company also promises to continue providing free snacks, soda, and television on its flights—at least for now.