Virgin America recently raised its checked-bag fees to $20 apiece. The fee applies to all bags, up to the tenth, and will affect all travel on or after September 10. First-class passengers are exempt and receive two free checked bags, while Main Cabin Select and passengers on refundable tickets can check the first bag for free.
Virgin America claims that its bag fee structure “remains competitive with, or lower, than its major network competitors,” but I find this statement to be largely untrue. Virgin America is certainly competing with legacy carriers (all of which charge bag fees) on each of its routes, but the carrier seems more a part of the JetBlue/Southwest crowd of low-cost carriers. Southwest famously allows two free checked bags while JetBlue permits one, meaning that either carrier is likely to have fewer costs tacked onto the bill. With Virgin America directly competing with these carriers, notably in Boston and San Francisco, how can its fee structure be considered “competitive”?