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$5 to Check Your Carry-On?

$5 to Check Your Carry-On?
Joe Cortez

Most airlines allow flyers to check-in carry-on bags at the gate for no charge. But what if you could do that at check-in for $5? JetBlue is running a trial to see if passengers would be interested in the guaranteed service – and even more baggage ancillary fees.

On small aircraft, flyers know that finding overhead bin space is a struggle. On many flights, airlines often volunteer the option to check carry-on luggage at the gate for free – and can turn it into a mandate if the cabin becomes full. But what if you could voluntarily check a carry-on at the check-in counter? Would it be worth $5 per bag?

JetBlue is currently running that experiment out of its operations from Orlando International Airport (MCO). reports JetBlue is offering the chance to “gate-check” carry-on sized bags at check-in for $5.

Under the rules of the current experiment, the $5 checked carry-on offer applies to luggage with a maximum size of 22 inches-by-14 inches-by-9 inches, with a maximum weight of 25 pounds. Bags can be checked before security, allowing flyers to only go through with their personal item, which must fit under the seat in front of them.

The $5 checked bag would be in addition to the current checked bag policies of $30 for a first checked bag and $40 for the second. The potential for a cost- and convenience-savings for passengers is significant: If a party of six each checked their bag for $5, they collectively could fly with 150 pounds of luggage – triple what is allowed in a single checked bag for the same price.

“In an effort to streamline the travel experience, we hope customers will enjoy carrying fewer bags through security and a quicker boarding process at the gate,” JetBlue spokesperson Philip Steward told “We look forward to gathering feedback on this trial from our customers and crewmembers.”

The airline has not commented on how long the experiment will last, or when it could be expanded to other airports. If the project is successful, it could spread to other airlines similar to each following last year’s move to increase checked luggage fees to $30 across all domestic carriers. Southwest Airlines was the exception, still allowing flyers to check two bags free of charge.


[Featured Image: Wikimedia]

View Comments (13)


  1. hfb606

    October 23, 2019 at 6:55 pm

    Jet Blue is the next Ryanair. They are being run by stupid bean counters. They will not be around long…

  2. ijgordon

    October 23, 2019 at 8:20 pm

    Interesting idea. I will often use my status allowance to check a carry-on sized bag for the convenience of not having to schlep it through the airport and worry about boarding early to get overhead space. But only on Delta where I’m pretty sure my bag will more meet or beat me to the luggage claim.
    One question – the article says the second personal item must “fit” underneath the seat, but it doesn’t specify that it must actually be stowed there. I suppose they just want to prevent people from bringing 2 carry-on sized bags, and checking one for $5. Besides, not sure how they can enforce disallowing a personal item from the overheads unless they go the Spirit route and require all bags in the overheads to be tagged as eligible.

  3. EAPflyer

    October 24, 2019 at 1:03 pm

    That is an easyJet idea, they have offered their HANDS FREE option (about 10$ fee) for more than a year now. I find it very convenient as I can take things that I cannot pass through security but for which I would not pay their huge fee for a checked bag (food, drink, etc.). EasyJet has no weight limit for carry-on, and this goes for HANDS FREE as well. Usual carry-on measures for dimensions though….

  4. diburning

    October 24, 2019 at 10:43 pm

    Think about it. If you bring two carry-on sized bags and a personal item, you can now check a bag for $5 instead of $30.

  5. RedElmo

    October 25, 2019 at 7:06 am

    Yay more fees. Heck. I’ll still carry it through. My goal no matter how cheap is to pay nothing extra.

  6. Austin787

    October 25, 2019 at 7:14 am

    This could be the first step towards a carry on fee, which could be charged at the gate.

  7. BOBAD

    October 25, 2019 at 8:23 am

    If the experiment turns out to be a successs, expect that $5 to rise significantly in no time……

  8. jn in ca

    October 25, 2019 at 10:40 am

    The airlines created the overhead bin mess by charging for checked luggage. Overhead space is much more limited than cargo space. They need to charge for carry ons and stop charging for checked baggage. It’s the only way to fix fight for the overheads.

  9. BC Shelby

    October 25, 2019 at 12:25 pm

    …what next, pay loos like Ryanair considered?

    @ jn in ca, Precisely..

  10. snidely

    October 25, 2019 at 3:04 pm

    I want to be able to walk straight to BART (SFO) to catch train or out to catch Uber. Don’t want hassle of checking luggage. I would pay $5 to be guaranteed overhead space.
    I/We fly Jet Blue several times a year. Never checked luggage even when it was free.

  11. JeffK69

    October 26, 2019 at 6:23 pm

    @jn in ca – You echo my thoughts verbatim. I have felt this way ever since they started charging for checked bags(SMH!!!) I just saw on my local news that United (which I am captive to out of EWR) is now making overhead bins larger to accommodate all the stuff people attempt to bring on board. They are “hoping” this will help make the boarding process smoother and less stressful, yikes! Where is this genius living?? in a closet somewhere??

  12. KRSW

    October 27, 2019 at 10:49 pm

    @jn in ca is spot on — people are carrying more on-board to avoid the becoming-usurious check-in bag rates. Not charging for checked luggage, but instead charging for carry-ons would negatively impact business travelers, BUT it would make a huge improvement in boarding speed.

    Take a look at Southwest. I’m not a fan, BUT sometimes I do have to fly them. There’s a substantial difference in how many carry-ons Southwest passengers carry compared to the Legacy3 passengers. Now… Southwest’s baggage handling leaves much to be desired. One round-trip on Southwest is equivalent to 20+ of wear and tear on Delta, and I know my bags will definitely get there, sometimes before I do, on Delta.

  13. AllanJ

    October 28, 2019 at 8:53 am

    What is the guarantee for offering to pay $5 to check a carryon?
    If you could have 150 lb. of baggage by checking your carryon, you still get the 150 lb of baggage by not checking the carryon, bringing the latter on board with you.

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