United Airlines is always quick to match negative changes from competitors, and this is no exception.
United raising checked bag fees to $35
United Airlines is increasing checked bag fees for flights within North America, and flights to the Caribbean and Central America:
- The first checked bag will go from costing $30 to costing $35
- The second checked bag will go from costing $40 to costing $45 ($50 on flights to & from Canada)
Do note that:
- This applies for travel as of March 6, 2020
- These increases don’t apply to tickets purchased prior to February 21, 2020
- If you pre-pay for your bags online before check-in, then this price increase won’t apply to you
- MileagePlus Premier customers, and those with an eligible United MileagePlus credit card, continue to receive complimentary checked bags
Presumably the reason the price increase doesn’t apply if purchasing prior to check-in is twofold:
- The transaction costs are less if you’re paying online, rather than taking up the time of an airline agent, paying in person, etc.
- Some people will buy more bags than they end up needing
United raised checked bag fees in 2018
This is the second time in 18 months that United is raising checked bag fees. In August 2018 the airline increased checked bag fees — at the time the price of the first checked bag increased from $25 to $30.
A few weeks ago JetBlue announced that they’d raise checked bag fees from $30 to $35 (and wouldn’t apply the increase to bags purchased in advance), so United is exactly matching JetBlue here.
United eliminating bag sizers at gates
Typically when airlines raise checked bag fees, the result is that more people try to travel exclusively with carry-ons.
That’s why it’s worth noting that just recently United decided to eliminate bag sizers at gates. I’m referring to those things at the gate that you’ll sometimes be asked to place your bag in, if a gate agent suspects your bag is too big.
With these having been eliminated at United gates, gate agents are told to exercise their best judgment in deciding whether a carry-on is the right size or not.
Personally this decision seems counterproductive to me, and I imagine we’re going to see more people try to carry-on big bags.
It’s not surprising to see United follow JetBlue’s lead with increased checked bag fees. The US airlines love following one another when it comes to negative developments, and if anything, I’m surprised it took United a few weeks to follow.
I suspect we’ll see American follow soon as well, and probably Delta as well.
On the plus side, at least there’s a way to avoid the price increase by purchasing your bag in advance.
What do you make of United increasing checked bag fees?