At the end of August, JetBlue did something unusual and became the first U.S. airline to increase its checked bag fees. And, of course, United followed suit shortly after that. So the question became, would Delta and American raise their fees? Well, yesterday we got our answer as Delta raises its checked bag fee too.
JetBlue & United
As I’ve said before, JetBlue made an initial first move, raising their checked bag fee by $5. As a result, your first checked bag on JetBlue went from $25 to $30, while second check bags went from $35 to $40. The third checked bag fee, however, jumped up 50%, going from $100 to $150, matching the third checked bag fees of the big three legacies.
Just days after JetBlue, United decided to raise its checked bag fee too. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. After all, Scott Kirby is United’s president and has always been one fee-happy man!
With JetBlue and United both charging higher checked bag fees, everyone began to wonder if the other two, Delta and American, would follow. Personally, I thought American would cave first. After all, it’s not like Doug Parker isn’t fee happy too; he and Scott Kirby did work together for years. But, Delta ended up being the third US airline to take the plunge and up its checked bag fees.
Like the other two, Delta is raising its checked bag fees by $5 too. What this means is first checked bags on domestic flights and certain other routes are now $30, up from $25. Similarly, second checked bag fees are going from $35 to $40. Third checked bags remain at $150, while bags 4-10 are $200.
Avoiding Delta’s Checked Bag Fee
As is the case with United and JetBlue’s checked bag fee, there are ways to avoid paying them. Aside from having Delta Medallion status, you can avoid Delta’s bag fees by being a Delta SkyMiles cardholder. Specifically, the Delta SkyMiles by American Express Gold, Platinum, and Reserve cards all come with a first checked bag free benefit. However, the Platinum and Reserve cards have another really great perk too. Of course, another option is always to get a different card with airline or travel statement credits, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the Amex Platinum.
Delta Raises Its Checked Bag Fee, Final Thoughts
Now that Delta has raised their checked bag fee, there’s no reason for American not to. I mean, they could choose not to and market it as a competitive advantage, but American’s leadership aren’t ones to leave fee income on the table. It’s just a matter of time now, in my opinion. And as I said before, I’m surprised American hasn’t done so ahead of Delta. After all, American tends to play monkey see, monkey do quite a lot.
In the grand scheme of things, though, this fee increase isn’t going to bother most frequent fliers. Most have either status and credit cards to help offset any checked bag fees. So the ones that will be affected by the fee increase are infrequent travelers, and especially those that are hub captive.