JetBlue Raises Fees for Extra Legroom, Second Bag
JetBlue Airways, the low-fare carrier known for not nickel-and-diming its passengers, quietly raised the price of its Even More Legroom seats by $5 this week on certain flights and also boosted fees by $5 for a second checked bag.
The carrier originally launched its extra legroom seats in 2008, offering a limited number of passengers on A320 and Embraer 190 planes the chance to get four more inches of legroom. Pricing starts at $5 each way and goes up from there.
"Some prices are still as low as $5 on short-haul flights and some have increased by $5 based on the demand for that route," said JetBlue spokeswoman Allison Steinberg.
The price of a second checked bag on JetBlue is now $35, up from $30, as of Wednesday. First checked bags are currently still free of charge.
Steinberg said she could not comment on how much additional revenue the carrier would generate from the fees, but noted, "This fee change helps us to offer a more competitive product and price point."
The fees come amid a wave of fare increases and incremental fees as the airline industry looks to balance out skyrocketing fuel costs fueled by a wave of protests and political upheaval in the Middle East.
The domestic airlines have raised fares at least six times this year, and thus far they have not seen major pushback from consumers. Some fare increases geared toward business and last-minute travelers were pulled back in recent weeks when some of the major carriers failed to go along with them.
George Hobica, founder of AirfareWatchdog.com, said the airlines are being very careful to not price themselves out the market.
"They're playing a cat-and-mouse game with the consumer to say let's see what happens when we raise fares $5 or $10," he told AOL Travel News. "It's been shown in the past that when they raise their fares too high, people tend to drive."
US Airways announced last month that it would nearly double the price for oversized checked luggage to between $90 and $175 pounds, from $50 to $100.
Rival low-fare carrier Southwest Airlines launched several modest fare increases of $2 to $5, but said it would not raise fees in response to fuel prices. Officials have said they are concerned about how to remain profitable without pushing the limits of its customers.
Continental Airlines, starting this month, has eliminated free snacks on domestic routes in a move that was expected to save it $2.5 million and match the policy of merger partner United Airlines.
Aviation analyst Helane Becker, senior vice president at Dahlman Rose & Co., warned earlier this week that domestic carriers would try to "unbundle" more fees in lieu of pushing too aggressively on airfares.
"That's the art of air travel," said Marilee McInnis, spokesperson for Southwest.
(Updated at 4 p.m.)
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