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Rewind the clock just 7 years to early 2008 or so and it was pretty much a given that when you bought an airline ticket you were also buying the right for your checked bag to come with you. However, in the subsequent 7+ years, your checked bag (and sometimes even carry-on bag) are no longer treated as part of your ticket, and pretty much every US airline now charges extra for you to have the right to check your stuff on the flight to which you hold a ticket.
Until today there were two lone holdouts – Southwest and JetBlue, but now JetBlue has decided to go into the business of making money on virtually all checked bags, and has left Southwest as the one option for those who don’t want to pay for checked bags.
JetBlue will now offer different fare bundles that include different numbers of checked bags and at different prices (you confused yet?).
Breakdown of New JetBlue Bag Fees and Fares:
Blue fares: The first checked bag fee is $20 when purchased during web check-in or at a kiosk, or $25 at the check-in counter and the second checked bag is $35.
Blue Plus fares: One checked bag is included and the second checked bag fee is $35.
Blue Flex fares: Two checked bags are included.
Mint fares: Two checked bags are included.
For Blue and Blue Plus fares for flights to or from Santo Domingo, Santiago, Port-au-Prince, Port of Spain, Kingston, Cartagena, Medellin, Bogota, Lima and Mexico City: one checked bag is included and the second checked bag fee is $35.
Blue Plus Fares Offer Lowest Checked Bag Fee:
I did some test searches and found Blue Plus fares to often cost $15 more each direction than Blue fares, so if you know for sure you will be checking a bag, you can save some cash by going ahead and buying the Blue Plus fare from the beginning. It also comes with slightly lower change fees and earns slightly more points.
Blue Flex fares were often $100 more per direction and include not only two checked bags and some additional online booking bonus points, but also waive the cancellation or change fees (other than the fare differential).
Elites and Previous Ticket Holders Still Have Free Checked Bag:
For all fares, any additional bags are $100 each. Mosaic (elite) customers and those on the same itinerary are allowed two (2) checked bags free of charge.
Bookings made prior to June 30, 2015 and exempt from the new checked bag fee for the first checked bag and may check a second bag for a $35 fee.
If you are traveling on JetBlue TrueBlue points, the same fare options are available with the Blue Plus and Blue Flex fares costing more points than the Blue fares, but including the additional perks like a checked bag. I would be willing to bet at some point a JetBlue credit card will also offer a checked bag benefit, but that doesn’t seem to be in place at this time.
If you want to avoid checked bag fees without the assistance of elite status and/or rewards credit cards, I highly recommend looking to Southwest who still offers the first and second checked bag without a charge…at least for now.