Aided By Datalex, JetBlue Eyes New Fare Bundles (And Maybe An Opening For First Bag Fees)

JetBlue Airways in the first half of 2015 plans to introduce the first phase of new bundled fare offerings after completing development with e-commerce software provider Datalex. JetBlue executives during a conference call with analysts and media on Thursday gave few details on bundled pricing and products, but suggested they could include first-checked bag fees__at least on a limited basis.

JetBlue CEO Dave Barger said the Datalex system will help the airline "improve the monetization of our differentiated products."

That includes the ability to "put different bundles of offerings in front of customers," said JetBlue president Robin Hayes. "If you look at many of the low-cost carriers in Europe, they do this very elegantly and really well. We look at that, and we see opportunities to bundle elements of our product that we don't do today."

Analysts asked whether that could include first-checked bag fees, which JetBlue has resisted. Hayes replied that in some markets, JetBlue commands a revenue premium by offering a fare-inclusive first-checked bag. Where it doesn't, fare families "allow you to monetize first bag where you don't get it, and we'll have that capability. What we haven't said yet is what that looks like and the structure of that."

While Hayes views fare families as "a significant source of revenue growth for us," he added that JetBlue will be "very thoughtful about how we execute these things."

The airline in January announced the partnership with Datalex, whose clients also include Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, WestJet and Virgin Atlantic.

At the time, a statement from JetBlue chief information officer Eash Sundaram indicated the "strategic agreement" would "strengthen our e-commerce capabilities with a state-of-the-art merchandising platform and expanded self-service capabilities."

In the meantime, JetBlue reported healthy growth in ancillary revenue during the second quarter, up "by roughly 13 percent year over year to approximately $185 million," said CFO Mark Powers. Growth largely was driven by applying revenue management techniques to its Even More paid-seat product, Powers said.