United Is the Latest Airline to Increase Bag Fees

Aug 31, 2018

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Yet another US airline is raising its fees for checked bags. This time, it’s United, which is significant because it is the first US legacy carrier to hop on the bandwagon of raising the fees.

The carrier said Friday that for flights in North America, the Caribbean and Central America, the checked bag fees are now:

  • $30 first checked bag
  • $40 second checked bag within the U.S., Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Caribbean and Central America
  • $50 second checked bag to Canada
  • $55 second checked bag to Mexico (this amount is the same)

The fees are effective for flights purchased as of Friday. United used to charge passengers $25 for the first checked bag.

A United spokesperson told TPG that most of these baggage fees haven’t been changed in eight years. “These changes allow us to continue investing in the overall customer experience in today’s marketplace,” the statement said. “Customers with MileagePlus Premier status and customers who purchase their ticket with an eligible MileagePlus credit card will continue to receive complimentary checked luggage.”

Earlier this week, three other airlines — Jetblue, Air Canada and Westjet — raised their fees to about $30 for the first checked bag within the US and Canada.

Budget carrier Ryanair also introduced new baggage fees last week. The fee scheme is incredibly confusing, but passengers will now have to pay about $7 to $11.50 to check their roll-aboard carryons that used to be gate-checked for free.

With the increasing price of fuel, airlines are looking to eke out profits wherever they can, including raising airfares. So don’t expect the trend of higher fees (baggage or otherwise) to stop anytime soon.

And if you’re going to be paying higher fees, you might as well earn more points for it. As TPG‘s JT Genter reports, it’s best to put a baggage fee purchase on a card that offers bonus points/miles on the purchase. Your top options are:

  • Citi Premier Card (3x ThankYou points)
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve (3x Ultimate Rewards points; excluding $300 travel credit)
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (2x Ultimate Rewards points)

Or, you can put the purchase on a card that reimburses miscellaneous airline fees such as:

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve ($300 travel credit each calendar year)
  • Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card ($250 airline incidentals credit)
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express ($200 airline fee reimbursement)

Featured image by fizkes/Getty Images.

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