THE BLOG
11/19/2014 11:44 am ET Updated Jan 19, 2015

JetBlue Will Charge For First Checked Bag On Lowest Fares

Say it ain't so, JetBlue! In order to appease investors, JetBlue announced today that it will follow pricing models familiar to passengers on Frontier Airlines and American Airlines: airfare bundles that include, and don't include, a free checked bag.

It's not the only recent policy change to dismay customers. Earlier this year, the airline changed its once-generous full refund policy (in the form of a travel credit) in the event of a fare drop after purchase.

From the JetBlue media release:

"Beginning in the first half of 2015, customers will be able to choose between three branded fare bundle options. The first of these will be designed for customers who do not plan to check a bag, while the latter two will offer one and two free checked bags, respectively, along with other attractive benefits, including additional TrueBlue points and increased flexibility. This new merchandising platform will enable JetBlue to tailor its offering to individual customers' needs in a way that is simple and transparent."

That will leave only Southwest, for now, offering a free checked bag.

This sounds similar to Frontier's pricing model, which offers its lowest fares if you pay for a checked and/or a carryon bag. American has a similar model with its "choice" fares.

The real question is: will JetBlue's no-checked-bag fares be the same or lower as their current lowest fares. Our guess is they'll be the same, meaning you won't get a "discount" for not checking a bag. JetBlue reckons they'll earn an extra $400 million per year with these new fare bundles. And another question: will online travel agencies be able to show the different fare bundles? Most likely not, so that will drive traffic to JetBlue's website, which is the holy grail for any airline hoping to avoid referral fees from Kayak and the like.