Lowest Airline Baggage Fees: The Winner Is …
Southwest and JetBlue top the list for “lowest airline fees” based on the carriers’ baggage fee policies (read our previous article on airline fees you should know about before airport arrival). These are the only two U.S. airlines that give passengers any free checked-bags:
- JetBlue – one free bag
- Southwest – two free bags
Winner: Call it a draw, since few people require two bags when they travel.
You can see what the others charge for checked-bags on the FareCompare Domestic BaggageÃÂ Fee Chart.
Most airlines love baggage fees since it brings in millions of dollars in revenue, but Southwest and JetBlue have focused on luring new customers and cultivating brand loyalty with creative and fun ad campaigns and press events (like the one below) and a compelling price point: free.
According to Chris McGinnis, Director of the Travel Skills Group, it helps that Southwest and JetBlue are primarily leisure-centric carriers: “The occasional leisure travelers are the folks most affected by luggage fees because most business travelers use carryon bags or are elite level members of airline programs that waive such fees.”
Southwest Tops JetBlue on Change Fees
Avoiding baggage fees isn’t the only way airfare shoppers can save. Comparing “change fees” isÃÂ another possibility.
A change fee is what an airline charges its ticket holders if they wish to change their itineraries. Some airlines charge as much as $150 for this privilege (see the FareCompare DomesticÃÂ Airline Fee Chart for all change fee prices).
Here’s how JetBlue and Southwest stack up against each other:
- JetBlue – $100 change fee
- Southwest – No change fee
Winner: Score this round for Southwest
Other Airline Fee Comparisons
People who don’t travel often may be surprised at today’s ever-expanding array of new andÃÂ unique airline fees, which includes food, WiFi, and some airlines even charge for longtime freeÃÂ amenities such as pillows and blankets.
Blankets and Pillows
- JetBlue charges $7 for its “pillow and blanket travel kit”
- Southwest does not have pillows or blankets anymore
Winner: Another draw; JetBlue does charge a fee, but at least you’re assured of a clean blanketÃÂ and pillow. No charge on Southwest, but you have to tote your own from home.
Pet Airline Fees
Another popular airline fee where a quick cost-comparison could result in more savings is pet travel. This is what you’ll pay on JetBlue and Southwest if you want to take Fluffy or Fido with you:
- JetBlue charges $100 one-way for pets
- Southwest charges $75 one-way for pets
Winner: Southwest, but please note that both carriers only transport animals in their cabins andÃÂ not as cargo, so this arrangement only works for smaller pets.
Southwest Wins Overall
Overall, Southwest squeaks by JetBlue for top spot on the “lowest fees” list. Share with us below which airline is your favorite and if you’re paying more in fees, why you think they’re worth it. We’d love to hear about it.