Southwest wasted no time after yesterday’s announcement that JetBlue will begin charging for a first checked-bag in 2015 – at least for some customers – and you only have to look at Southwest’s website to see the result.
Southwest Crows about Free Bags
On its homepage, the Dallas-based carrier crows, “Bags Fly Free for all only at Southwest. Nobody loves you like we do.” They also helpfully point out that skis and golf bags fly free, too.
Note: While the airline does indeed provide two free bags per passenger, all bags are still governed by weight limitations and if a bag is heavier than 50 pounds, there’s an overweight fee of $75 (active duty military are exempt).
JetBlue’s Explanation on Fees, More Seats on Planes
JetBlue, meanwhile, has countered the bag fee buzz with an email to its customers that includes this explanation: “In continuing efforts to better understand what matters most to you, we’ve learned that less than half of our customers travel with checked bags. This insight led us to develop more fare options, creating a future model where customers are only paying for the features they need.”
The airline also stated it will ‘refresh’ its aircraft with new, lighter seats – and more of them – so they can fly more customers (but the carrier claims it will still offer the most legroom in coach based on the average fleet-wide seat pitch of U.S. carriers).
What it all comes down to, as FareCompare reported earlier, is money. Bag fees make airlines billions. And even as Southwest crows, it’s worth remembering that the airline’s own CEO said in the not-too-distant past that you can never say never when it comes to fees.
Which has the Best Deals – Southwest or JetBlue
The short answer is, both – and sometimes – neither one. No single airline always has the best deal, which is why it is incredibly important to compare airfares. For those who want the cheapest flights, that is. With or without baggage fees.