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jetblue charges $7 for pillows, jetblue and pillow fee, airlines charging fees

JetBlue Hopes $7 Pillow Fee Will Provide Financial Cushion

August 05, 2008 03:17 PM
by Cara McDonough
Charging for pillows is the newest entry on a growing list of airline-industry fees and cost-cutting geared to combat fuel prices and decreased profits.
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JetBlue has replaced the free pillows aboard its flights with what it’s calling “a new, high-quality pillow and blanket kit,” for which it charges $7, ABC reports. The company claims that the pillow and blanket are much cleaner and better quality than typical airline-issue versions.

But the move is just another of the many ways airlines are trying to offset rising costs. In June, American Airlines and other carriers announced fees for checked bags and other services. In July, Northwest announced plans to cut staff on the same day that US Airways said that it would remove in-flight entertainment systems on domestic flights in order to lighten planes and save fuel. Emirates, the airline of the United Arab Emirates, recently announced plans to get rid of in-flight magazines.

JetBlue’s announcement comes just days after Delta announced that it is doubling its checked bag fee to $50 for a second bag. US Airways also announced this week that it would begin charging $2 for soda and juice.

So where do the fees end and how will customers react?

“These fees will be annoying at first,” said Ray Niedl, an airline analyst for Calyon Securities. “But passengers will adjust because of the need for air travel.”

Some travelers aren’t so sure.

“Great, so now I’m gonna starve AND not sleep,” JetBlue passenger Audrey Morris told the New York Daily News while waiting to board a Denver-bound flight. “I’d rather have a stiff neck on vacation than give them seven bucks.”

No Such Thing as a Free Pillow

Some airlines have removed the pillows and blankets from flights to save weight, but JetBlue is the only carrier—so far—to actually charge for the items. ABC reports that travelers can expect to start paying fees the minute they arrive at the airport: “Want to check your bags? How about a nice cold soda in mid-flight? Maybe a little extra leg room or even a seat assignment? Cha-ching. Cha-ching. Cha-ching. Cha-ching.”
“Replacing our old, recycled pillows and blankets with this state-of-the-art, high-quality take-home kit is an ecoconscious, health-conscious and customer-conscious decision,” said Brett Muney, JetBlue’s general manager for product development. But the New York Daily News reports that Felicia Badillo, who got off a JetBlue flight from Orlando, said that out of about 50 passengers, she only saw one buy a pillow and blanket kit.

Opinion & Analysis: Fees understandable, but not good business sense

The era of glamorous air travel ended long ago,” argues New York Times editorial blog The Board. “Now, the question is whether air travel will remain endurable.” The blog contends that, although it makes sense that airlines have to impose fees with fuel prices soaring, “it’s hard to believe that airlines are doing themselves any favors—particularly among customers who are trying to decide whether to fly, take a train, or drive.”

Background: Cutbacks, fees and other airline developments

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