Only One Bag Free, As Of May 5
In an effort to cut costs, while
also generating more revenue, this week United Airlines made a
significant change to its checked baggage policy. As of May 5,
travelers who purchase non-refundable or discount domestic flight
tickets will be limited to one -- and only one -- free bag on
United, Ted, and United Express flights.
A service fee of $25 will be placed on the second bag for
"Non-members or General Members of Mileage Plus on non-refundable
Economy fares or Economy Saver Award Tickets," according to
United's domestic baggage information website.
Members of United's Elite programs -- those who routinely fly
over 25,000 miles per year -- will not be affected by the change.
Charges for additional bags (three or more) were increased to a
flat fee of $100 per bag, for everyone, though.
"This change enables us to continue offering customers
competitive fares, and it fits with our overall strategy to tailor
our products and services around what our customers value most and
are willing to pay for, as we have with our popular Economy Plus
seating," said John Tague, executive vice president and chief
revenue officer. "Our customer research shows that only about one
in four customers check a second bag, and with this new policy,
customers who check extra bags may continue to do so for a service
fee, which enables us to offer competitive fares to everyone."
United's size and weight requirements will remain the same, as
will its carry-on policy. Strollers, car seats, wheelchairs, and
essential medical equipment will continue to be free of charge,
while sports equipment would count as a second bag.
So far, no other airlines have rushed to match the policy,
reports MSNBC... but this may be a case where United leads, and
other airlines will inevitably follow. Unbundled (or 'a la carte')
pricing, combined with passing along rising fuel costs to
passengers, are the latest efforts from several carriers to stay
The move should encourage passengers to seriously reconsider
their luggage stuffing, and -- in theory -- provide more room in
the baggage compartment and less work for handlers. Conversely, it
may also lead to even bulkier "carry-on" baggage... but look at it
this way, it's one less bag for TSA to paw through, out of