Point Me to the Miles

Navigating the Path to Great Travel

United Raises Baggage Fees

Earlier this week, the Chicago Tribune reported United increased some of their baggage fees on for travel on international itineraries.

This charge applies only to the SECOND checked bag on trans-oceanic flights to Europe, the Middle East, Africa and India.

The article brings up erroneous numbers  for travel on Delta (which I will get to in a moment), but also mentions Spirit and Allegiant baggage fees.

One of the most common questions I get is “Will airlines start charging for carry-on baggage?”  In short, no, I do not think the legacy carriers will.

Allegiant, Sprit, and Southwest (theoretically) are all low-cost carriers.  In controlling the costs of flying with them, they generate more revenue for themselves by charging for things such as snacks, water, carry-on baggage, and even selecting your seat ahead of time.

Thus, Allegiant usually charges $35 for carry-on bags, $13 if pre-paid.  And Spirit currently charges or $35 for carry-ons or$30 at the time of booking, but those fees will rise to $40 and $35, respectively, by the end of the year.

Southwest famously broadcasts that they do not charge for the first two checked bags, but they charge $50, each starting with third checked bag.

I think this news can easily be over-hyped, as is common in the news for a number of reasons:

  • The article is misleading.
    According to their United’s website, it appears they do not charge a fee for the first checked bag on these routes.  Also, it is not always evident it is for the SECOND bag only.
  • This article and article by Fox News are both factually inaccurate.
    They say in journalism to always check your facts and references.  Although partially correct about Delta, neither one of them took the time to do that.Delta does not charge for the first bags on any of these international routes.  However, they do charge $75 for the SECOND piece of checked luggage to the Middle East, India, and Southern Africa, or $60 if checking in online.

    However, Delta does charge $100 for the SECOND checked piece of luggage on flights to  Europe and North Africa, or $80 if checking in online.

So not $100/$80 across the board.  It definitely doesn’t help that Delta groups regions   differently than United, as “Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and India” is one region.

  • This is obviously not taking into account baggage fee waivers.  Passengers with elite status obviously will be exempt, (for the most part–Delta and United Silvers only get one bag free) as will those who are traveling in a premium cabin.

    This may begin to change a little bit, as Alaska has started charging for baggage if passengers pay with miles or cash to upgrade to First Class.

    Also, this does not take into account the airline fee that credit cards provide, such as the $200 fee credit of the American Express Platinum card.  In fact, since it would be almost pointless to use it for Delta as long as I am an elite member, I hedged my bets by registering it for use on United this year.

For your information, I have included web links to the baggage fees for the larger carriers in the US & Canada:

Air Canada
US Airways


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