United Airlines has joined the baggage fee bandwagon by levying a US$15 charge for a first checked bag for domestic flights.
No. 1 U.S. carrier American Airlines set the precedent for the charge, which has since been followed across the U.S. aviation industry. Most U.S. carriers already have instituted a US$25 charge for checking a second bag—part of a host of new fees that reflect an industry coping by passing on record fuel prices to passengers in the form of higher fares, fuel surcharges and service charges.
The Chicago-based carrier also is increasing the fee to check three or more bags, overweight bags or items that require special handling to US$125 from US$100, or to US$250 from US$200, depending on the item.
“With record-breaking fuel prices, we must pursue new revenue opportunities while continuing to offer competitive fares by tailoring our products and services around what our customers value most and are willing to pay for,” said John Tague, United’s chief operating officer.
United estimates the potential revenue from baggage handling service fees at about US$275 million a year. It expects the new US$15 service fee to apply to one in every three customers.
“We must write a new playbook for running a profitable airline in this new and challenging environment,” US Airways Chairman and Chief Executive Doug Parker said in a statement.
US Airways’ new fee takes place for tickets booked on or after July 9.