JetBlue — Baggage Policy Confusing and Unfriendly for Traveling Anglers

Another airline bitch-slapping for this traveling fisherman as JetBlue interprets its seemingly friendly regulations for fishing tackle in a decidedly unfriendly way

air travel

air travel

Many of the 40 million anglers in this country travel by airline for fishing vacations. Some airlines go out of their way to get this business, but many do not.

While getting ready today for a bit of vacation (where I’ll be — what else? — fishing), an inquiry to an airline regarding its special regulations for fishing tackle gave me a real bitch-slapping for complacency.

I had thought those regulations, as listed on the web site of my carrier next trip — JetBlue — were crystal clear.

As clear as mud, apparently. You be the judge.

Here is exactly what JetBlue's entry on its web site says about fishing gear:

One item of fishing equipment is considered:

two rods

one reel

one landing net

one pair of fishing boots (properly encased)

one fishing tackle box.

Seems pretty straightforward, you may think. I.e. ONE ITEM comprises the following (then see five-item list). That’s sure seems to be just what it says. But that’s not what it means, according to JetBlue’s manager for corporate communications.

So forget the landing net and hip waders that few saltwater anglers would carry — these regs were written by a non-angler no doubt (I mean, one reel for two rods? What’s up with that?). I want to take only two of the five allotted items, I explained: rods and a tackle box.

The rods would be in a rod tube of course, so my one-piece rods will hopefully not be multi- -piece rods upon arrival. And the tackle box will be a small soft-sided bag. Of course I’d make certain that these items would in total weigh less than the 50 pounds allotted one checked bag.

Not so fast! Morgan Johnston, the airline’s corporate communications manager, informs me that “The bullet points listed under examples of ‘one item’ EACH represent one item” (my emphasis).

So if you travel on JetBlue and check a rod case, a single reel, a landing net no matter how small, a pair of boots and a tackle box, you’re now up to five items. Assuming your one free checked bag will be everything else (personal stuff), you now owe JetBlue $450 in excess baggage fees. Each way, of course.

Not to be a cheapskate, but it seems to me that $900 is a bit hefty to check a rod case, fishing reel, net, boots and tackle box.

I have, by the way, cited basically similar regs for airlines such as American when checking in a number of times and never had a problem with them accepting a rod tube and tackle bag as one item (of fishing gear). That simply reinforces the notion that at any given time for any given airline with any given ticket agent, anything goes. Like the Bible and the Constitution, it’s all about the interpretation, I guess.

In past comparisons of major airline regulations by Sport Fishing, JetBlue had earned a "fisherman friendly" rating.

Unfortunately, it looks SF's next airline analysis will reflect a downgrade for JetBlue as not so friendly after all.