An Airbus A320 takes off (Courtesy of JetBlue Airways)
DALLAS (AP) — JetBlue Airways is raising fees for checking a bag or changing a ticket, a move that could prompt other airlines to raise their fees.
New York-based JetBlue posted the increases online. They apply for all trips booked on or after Monday.
Passengers who buy the lowest of JetBlue's three fare classes for tickets will pay $30 to check a bag and $40 for a second bag, a $5 increase for each bag.
American, Delta and United still charge $25 for the first bag and $35 for the second, with exceptions for elite customers and those who use an airline-branded credit card. Southwest is the only large U.S. carrier that lets any passenger check up to two bags for free.
"Unfortunately, all it takes is one major airline to raise their prices or change their policies for the rest to follow," said John DiScala, who runs the travel site JohnnyJet.com.
George Hobica, the founder of the travel site airfarewatchdog.com, also predicted that others will match JetBlue's increase and expressed surprise that airlines had not raised bag fees before now. He suggested that airlines might eventually base the fees on distance traveled, with higher charges for longer flights.
JetBlue will also increase its fee for overweight or large items from $100 to $150, and fees on some sporting equipment like surfboards and bikes will rise, too.
For all but the highest fare class, JetBlue's fee for changing or canceling a ticket worth more than $200 will rise from $150 to $200, which matches fees that American, Delta and United levy for changing a nonrefundable ticket for domestic travel. Southwest does not charge change fees.
JetBlue spokesman Doug McGraw said the airline regularly reviews and adjusts fees to make sure the business is healthy and supports good customer experience.
Airline fees have taken off since 2008 when American Airlines introduced a $15 checked-bag fee to help offset high fuel prices. Most carriers now charge extra for better seats with more legroom, early boarding, taking a pet and other amenities. Money from fees helped airlines earn record profits in recent years.
Last year, U.S. carriers raised $7.4 billion from checked bags and ticket changes or cancellations — the government doesn't track other fees.