United: Did We Say $25 For The Second Bag? How About $50.

United Airlines has decided that $25 was too generous a price to check your second bag with their airline, and have announced that they’ll be bumping the fee up to $50.

Starting tomorrow, all tickets purchased for flights after Nov. 10 will be subject to the new fee. Members of the military traveling on orders, “Premier” frequent fliers, and first or business class customers will be exempt from the charge. Reuters says that United expects to increase its revenue from “merchandising efforts” (including baggage fees) by $700 million in 2009.

Meanwhile, airline stocks “mostly rose” as oil prices fell below $96 a barrel, after reaching as high as $147 over the summer, said the AP.

Airline shares rise on falling oil, upgrades [Forbes]
United Airlines doubles second-bag fee to $50 [Yahoo!] (Thanks, Liz!)
(Photo: Zonaphoto )

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  1. taking_this_easy says:

    why stick to $50…. i’d say $100 next year

    /me looks at the high ripoff prices of airlines, vs the high price of amtrak… wonders whether greyhound is the only inexpensive thing left

  2. Nighthawke says:

    Sounds like that hit they took on their stock smacked them in their wallets. So they are taking it out on their passengers now.

  3. VidaBlueBalls says:

    “Did we say we we’re going to fly United? How about Southwest?”

    • BuddyGuyMontag says:

      @VidaBlueBalls: Southwest has cramped seats. JetBlue for me, thanks!

      Seriously, it would cheaper to ship your stuff and/or buy new stuff at the place you’re going to than pay those fees.

      Pack lighter, people. You don’t need ALL your Manolos with you.

  4. UnicornMaster says:

    Why don’t they just go ahead an instigate an “Our Business Is Failing Because We Operate An Antiquated Inviable Business Model Fee” of $100 and get it over with?

  5. MercuryPDX says:

    Either they made only half of what they were expecting from people checking a second bag, or it’s been going so well they found their niche to save them.

  6. stang says:

    Just watch, United and others will bump it up to $100 for the Christmas season.

  7. DarkForest says:

    This is why I fly southwest. First bag? Free. Second? Free. Sure the third one costs $25, but hey, 4th through 9th are all $50 a piece.

    In other news, does anyone really check 9 bags for themselves?

  8. sir_eccles says:

    What happens when everyone takes their luggage as carry on and they don’t make that expected extra $700m?

    • BuddyGuyMontag says:

      @sir_eccles: You’re only allowed two carry-ons of a certain size. Usually a laptop case and a carry-on bag, which is about a weekend’s worth of clothes.

      I consider myself a heavy packer, and I’ve never taken more than one checked bag. As I said, it’s getting to the point where you either buy your clothes on-site or have them shipped.

    • junip says:

      @sir_eccles:

      what happens when everyone takes a carry-on and they don’t have enough space in the cabin to stow them all? you know it’ll happen. I bet they’ll shrink the size constraints of the carry-on bags to the point where it’s either pack 2 days of clothes, or check your bag.

      • SarcasticDwarf says:

        @junip: Flying over the past few years (including two weeks ago) it is clear that a greater percentage of people are bringing the maximum-size luggage as carry-ons. It used to be that on flights taking off from the local airports (<60 passenger capacity) there might be a half dozen or so bags that would not fit. Now the entire cart is filled up and the last flight actually required two for the gate-checked baggage.

        • junip says:

          @SarcasticDwarf:

          Yah, that sounds about right. I have one of those max-size carry-ons but I always used to check it. Now I’m going to go get a smaller bag to carry on with me. And I’ve been telling my family to please please please not get me anything for christmas this year because I don’t want to spend another $250 shipping stuff home. (stuff I don’t need too)

      • usa_gatekeeper says:

        @junip: In January they’ll be giving you a carry-on choice: either check the carry-on bag or check your winter coat.

  9. BuddyGuyMontag says:

    I spoke to my father about this, who is a golfer. I forgot that the second checked bag could be golf clubs or something. So we’re all not Paris-Hilton-closet packers.

  10. Colage says:

    It warms my heart that the bag fees (ostensibly to offset the high cost of oil) continue to rise despite falling oil prices.

    • Notsewfast says:

      @Colage:
      At this point I think they are pretty much ‘terrible business model fees’ than anything else.

      Granted, most of the airlines buy oil on futures contracts, so the gas going into planes today is the expensive stuff, but I highly doubt when the cheap stuff is going in in 6 months that these fees will magically disappear.

  11. thebluepill says:

    Wait till yall get hit at the gate for the $79 “board the plane” fee.

  12. FLConsumer says:

    UAL: Bring back customer service and maybe I’ll consider flying you again. Until then it’s B6,CO,AA,VX,BA,QF for me.

  13. MalcoveMagnesia says:

    I hate Southwest, their cattle call gate rush and the multiple connections to get cross country; but the “legacy” airlines imposing these nickel and dime fees are making me extremely tempted to give up on ever considering UAL for future domestic travel.

    A cute ad can be seen on YouTube by looking up the keywords “Southwest Commercial Flight Attendant”.

  14. tikkachicken says:

    I’m not an expert but my guess is that a huge percentage of airline revenues (probably >90%) come from their corporate / frequent flyers. For corporate flyers, the extra expense is reimbursable until they gain status – which is when the airline treats them like an actual customer.

  15. the-perfect-face-for-radio says:

    i’m on the no-fly list! the question is, how much more abuse can you people who do fly put up with before you say enough?

  16. DeltaTee says:

    United Airlines is finally implementing a policy where those who cost more to fly, pay more to be able to do so. This doesn’t seem like such a bad thing to me. If you think it is too much, then don’t fly.

    The goal of UAL is to make money. If they can get rid of the most costly customers to fly (and still have enough to fill the planes), they make more money. It seems like a pretty easy connection to make.

  17. shockwaver says:

    What happens when I’ve booked a flight for december, back in march before they had any of the idiot fees?

    • brendanm14 says:
    • Altdotweb says:

      @shockwaver:

      You should be exempted from the changes if you booked your flight before the changes went into effect.

      From United.com on the original bag check policy:

      When will the new policy go into effect?
      A $15 fee to check your first bag will apply to Economy tickets purchased on or after June 13, 2008, for travel on or after August 18, 2008.

      A $25 fee to check your second bag will apply to Economy tickets purchased on or after February 4, 2008.

      If you are exempt from these, you will be exempt from the next.

      - Send United an email stating the times of your purchase and asking your question about the fees.

      - Print out the response telling you that you are exempt.
      - Take it to the airport with you.
      - If they try to charge you fees that are contrary to the email, whip it out.

  18. copious28 says:

    So…why are they still raising prices after oil prices have fallen $50/brl? I remember the AA CEO saying something that the industry cannot operate over $117/brl. Therefore…

    The overall reason they are going to this model is the Internet…they have to make their tickets show up on the web price aggregators as the lowest price to get people to buy. The only way to make money is to tack on ridiculous fees.

    I live in Dallas, so AA is the predominate carrier here. I will say that of my recent experiences with both AA and Delta, I would choose Delta hands down if I have the choice. Ticket counter agents, gate agents and flight attendents are all way more customer focused and nice, and I got free drinks and a choice of snacks.

    • melvin22 says:

      @copious28: “The overall reason they are going to this model is the Internet…they have to make their tickets show up on the web price aggregators as the lowest price to get people to buy. The only way to make money is to tack on ridiculous fees.”

      So far it’s the only person who got the answer right.

      When people are armed with search engines and can get a list of all available tickets to their destination with a few clicks of a mouse, you can bet these results will somehow be sorted by price. If you can’t make your price to at least “appear” to be among the smallest ones in this list, your ticket will not be sold.

      • Haltingpoint says:

        @melvin22: Thank you. I’ve been pointing this out in every story about checked bag prices and other fees they are tacking on. The amount of revenue they would lose from listing tickets at a higher price is MUCH greater than the amount they may potentially lose from pissed customers who are stuck with the increase in fees.

        If the ticket listing sites started listing baggage fees with the total price, it would be a MUCH different story.

  19. Febryle says:

    I still don’t understand what the business model is for this. Are they trying to generate revenue from the (small) percentage of travelers who are willing to bring an extra bag and pay $50? Or, is this to discourage people from bringing extra bags, therefore reducing the weight of the plane and saving on fuel costs? Either way, I can’t imagine the benefits are worth the negative publicity. Better to just raise ticket prices by a few bucks.

  20. spazztastic says:

    They must’ve learned it all from the banking industry.

  21. BrianDaBrain says:

    They’re raising the price of the second bag to accommodate the the forthcoming $25 first bag fee. Of course.

  22. bobpence says:

    Just travelled United and found that, surprise, you get less of something when you charge for it. I paid the $15 each direction to check my rollaboard, and had a breeze of a time at baggage claim. Meanwhile on board the first flight they were begging people to check their carry-ons because they were out of overhead space.

    If I were a miser, I would take the rollaboard to the gate with me and make sure I was among the last to board.

    P.S. Folks, if your rollaboard does not fit in the overhead in a Boeing 737 without putting it in sideways, please check it next time. And then get a smaller rollaboard, rather than compensating.

  23. ironchef says:

    they will be installing pay toilets on the plane soon.

  24. bagumpity says:

    I think they should put a coin slot in the chair arms and charge passengers a $1 coin to recline. Chairs would have a “return to upright” spring that would activate every time someone left their seat.

    • SarcasticDwarf says:

      @bagumpity: I would go for this. I never put my seat back to sleep but on some flights if you want to use your laptop (and mine is only 13 inches) you have no choice.

    • @bagumpity:
      I like this idea- Why do I need to get your head in my face because someone feels like reclining 3 inches. It is the only control a customer has on the flight, but you are sticking it to the guy behind you, not the airline. It is a luxury we can do without. Make it $20 to recline, $10 to take your shoes off, and a $5 recycle fee for using the bathroom. Swipe that credit card- for those who care, you could earn a free flight after every paid flight, just on the incidentals.

  25. JPinCLE says:

    While there are much more important things for our legislators to worry about right now, I’d be pleased if my Representative introduced some kind of legislation outlawing this (and other hidden fees).

    I know it’s a slippery slope with regulation, and that concerns me, too, but I think the fuel surcharges, bag surcharges, etc… should be rolled into the price of the ticket.

    Of course, the counterpoint is, someone travelling with a briefcase may believe their ticket should cost less than someone travelling with two 48# checked bags and a briefcase.

    And they may be right… Damn, I wish one of these voices in my head would shut up.

  26. vastrightwing says:

    Here airlines do this: Bid seats out like eBay. Yea, let the market decide how much they want to pay. You may be surprised. Bus companies are starting to do this, in effect, by selling the first seats for $1. As the bus fills, the seats become more expensive.

    Yes, the “low” fares on the websites are misleading and makes comparing flights impossible. This is what’s annoying.

  27. This is why we always fly United, seriously.

    As a Premier Executive we don’t have to pay extra for bags or legroom. And we get a modicum of service in the “vip” line. Every other airline is going to do the same thing within a week or so, (I know, except Southworst) so better the devil I know.

    Keep your useless miles, though, it is more hassle to try and use them. Just give me my legroom, bags and an upgrade now and then. I will stay loyal as long as you do. We figure we have saved a couple hundred dollars this month alone.

    Did I mention the short line at TSA? United, you had me at “Economy plus.”

    • Major-General says:

      @Gizmosmonster: You are quite possibly either the luckiest or easiest to please customer of any airline. United lost me long ago.

      • @bobpence:

        P.S. Folks, if your rollaboard does not fit in the overhead in a Boeing 737 without putting it in sideways, please check it next time. And then get a smaller rollaboard, rather than compensating.

        Also, if you have any carry-on that will fit under your seat, don’t waste bin space with it. The flight attendants remind people of this but nobody seems to comply. Nothing annoys me more than finding that there would have been space for my rollaboard, had some clown not stuck his jacket and his wife’s purse up in the bin.

        I’ve seen the flight attendants get a bit more ruthless about taking down the small carry-ons and making people put them under their seat. I hope they keep it up.

  28. gliscameria says:

    This is getting insane. Just bill us for everything up front. Are the cool air blowers and bathrooms going to be coin-op… of course not, because they’ll make you swipe a credit card.

  29. Oh No I Di'n't. says:

    I’m in MN, so I’m stuck with NWA. It sucks for people who are in hubs and have limited options. At least I don’t fly United. I just need to accrue enough Frequent Flier miles from business trips to not have to worry about the fee for checking bags on regular trips…

  30. hankrearden says:

    This is a classic example of what I call the “celery and bleu cheese tactic.” Let me explain – one fine evening I went to buy wings at my local pizza merchant. I paid, grabbed my bag and left, only to open the bag when I got home and realise there were only wings. No bleu cheese. No celery. Huh? Who eats wings like that?

    I drove back and politely remarked that they had forgotten the bleu cheese and celery. “That’s $0.50 extra,” is what I was informed.

    So, let me get this straight – ya wanna make me aware you are chargin me extra insteada jus’ “throwin’ ‘em in” for free? Idiots! They’d rather piss off each customer than just raise the price overall and still provide “the whole enchilada”.

    Just raise the price. Don’t cheap me and then nickel and dime me to death afterwards. Simple.

  31. quail says:

    Hmm, I could pay $50 for the airline to check my second bag and pray that it gets to its destination in one piece or at all. Or I could pay $40 to send an insured box of clothing by UPS to be held at my destination upon my arrival.

    This business model I’d say is helping the freight industry more than anything else.

  32. Barney_The Plug_ Frank says:

    I am so sick of United. They are the anus of the airline industry! They are usually the first to set the bar lower.

  33. howtragic says:

    I just think that the airlines should go ahead and advertise their tickets as a “base price”. You can add on extras if you’d like, for a little extra money. This is essentially what they’re doing, they’re just too stupid to come out and say it. Personally, I don’t mind the fees at all. I hope it will make the base price low. For people like me, who can live without taking two huge fucking bags everywhere, I think it will be for the best.

    Come on people, do you REALLY need two bags? Why? And I get maybe some skis, or golf clubs or whatever, but otherwise, who on earth needs two huge bags worth of shit?

  34. jrobie says:

    So United’s plan to survive high fuel prices is to drive all of their customers away so they don’t have to fly, and can avoid buying that expensive jet fuel?

    Brilliant!

    Next month they’ll be charging a “convenience fee” for every time the flight attendant walks past your seat and doesn’t jab you with a sharp stick.

    I want bullet trains.

  35. Oh No I Di'n't. says:

    I think its BS that you have to pay the fee yet they still sometimes lose your stuff. Not acceptable.