In a USA Today story published today, writer Charisse Jones takes a look at jetBlue’s clever ads lampooning the audacity of the major carriers for tacking on baggage and other ancillary fees. According to Jones, “JetBlue has joined Southwest in launching pointed ads aimed at competitors who charge extra fees that irk many passengers.” But what about jetBlue’s fees? Are they really sure they want the microscope pointed at their own fees? And have they painted a bullseye on themselves with such an ad campaign. And with Southwest via its acquisition of AirTran now going into catchment areas served by jetBlue, could Southwest point its ad campaigns directly at, of all carriers, jetBlue? (I do suggest that when I’ve watched those Southwest tugs tearing after a taxiing airplane it distinctly looks as if they’re chasing a jetBlue A-320 sans its livery…but I could be wrong.) Perhaps. How, You ask?
Well, let’s just take a glance at the carrier lumped together in the story with jetBlue – Southwest – and see if the two belong in the same breath when it comes to fees. In a side-by-side analysis, TruPrice selected thirteen common fees ranging from baggage to ticketing and change fees to standby travel to unaccompanied minor and pet fees. We even looked at some sporting equipment fees like bicycles and surf boards.
The results? By any objective analysis, if I’m the head of marketing at jetBlue, I’m readying a response to my CEO as to why I let the genie out of the bottle. Not only are jetBlue’s fees in virtually any category higher than Southwest’s, but they’re also higher than Alaska, Virgin America, Frontier, and Allegiant. In some cases, substantially higher. For instance, check three bags on Southwest? $50.00. Alaska: $60.00. On jetBlue, the same three bags: $105.00. And how about those dastardly ticket change fees? Southwest charges no flat fee but you do pay the difference in airfare. JetBlue? $100.00 plus the difference in airfare.
And these are just a few examples. Let’s face it folks, fees are not popular with anyone. But getting into parodies in your commercials regarding other carriers’ fees when your own fees can easily be made into a parody themselves is inviting the type of attention no one in the industry wants. My advice? Be careful what you ask for. I’m thinking by the time this post makes it to the CEO of jetBlue, its marketing department may also be citing the same old passage.