It’s Southwest. As of today, JetBlue Airways has ended its practice of free checked bags, announcing at an investor event in New York that it will add a bag-check fee for fliers buying the cheapest tickets—and cut legroom on select aircraft.
JetBlue—which built its reputation on seat comfort, free check-in bags, and free snacks—is the latest airline to succumb to investor pressure to focus on returns and cost control, after failing to reach seat-per-mile revenue targets.
The airline says under its new pricing packages, the cheapest tickets will no longer include a free checked bag, second-tier tickets would include one piece of luggage free, and the priciest tickets would allow two.
The airlines also announced the addition of 15 more seats on its Airbus A320 as part of a “cabin refresh,” bringing the total number of seats to 165 from 150. This will mean a tighter squeeze for passengers, but will add $100 million to earnings by 2019.
The announcement comes during a purple patch for US airlines, thanks to low fuel costs, an airline’s single biggest expense. But they aren’t passing on the savings to their customers.
Here’s hoping Southwest keeps flying against the trend.