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Two bags to check at airport? JetBlue charging $80 for the privilege

JetBlue has raised its bag check fees by $5, bumping up costs for customers who pack heavy or opt for hands-free flights, and if industry history is any guide, other major carriers will soon follow with their own fee hikes on baggage.

Under the new JetBlue pricing structure, it costs $35 to check one bag with the airline and $45 for a second piece of checked luggage. 

The cost of checking a third bag —$150 — remained unchanged. 

Customers can avoid the price hikes by checking bags online at least 24 hours prior to their flight's departure time, JetBlue said. 

The airline insisted the price move was designed in part to improve the flow of customers through airports. 

"Incentivizing customers to select their checked bag option ahead of time" will help "reduce transactions in the airport lobby and improve the customer experience," a JetBlue spokesperson said in a statement to CBS News.

Airline fees grow, seats shrink 01:34

The move also helps the airline provide its passengers with comfort and entertainment perks — free of charge. 

"While we don't like increasing fees, we are focused on keeping fares low and offering the features customers tell us they want most, such as the most legroom in coach, free Wi-Fi and seatback TV," the airline spokesperson said.

The new pricing structure applies to tickets that were purchased starting Thursday. For those passengers who bought tickets before then and still haven't paid for their bags, the old pricing structure still applies.

JetBlue began charging $25 and $35 for one and two checked bags in mid-2015, and increased fees by $5 in 2018. The price hike paved the way for competitors United, American and Delta to slap additional fees on checked bags, too. 

All three airlines currently charge what JetBlue used to for checked bags: $30 for a first bag and $40 for a second. None of the other airlines has indicated baggage fee hikes are coming in the wake of JetBlue's policy change.

Southwest Airlines, meanwhile, still allows passengers to check up to two bags without an extra charge. 

Legacy carriers started charging customers to check their bags more then a decade ago. American Airlines was the first major U.S. carrier to impose fees in May 2008, when it began charging $15 for a first checked bag.

Last year, airlines charged $4.3 billion in checked bag fees in the first three quarters of 2019, according to the latest available data from the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics. 

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