United, US Airways Bill Higher Baggage Fee As A Way To Save. Huh?

United and US Airways will soon charge an extra $5 to check bags at the airport, charging $20 for the first bag and $30 for the second. Since it will still cost $15 and $25 respectively to pay for checked bags online, United thinks they can herald the chance to “prepay & save!,” while US Airways boasts that they now have a “lower fee online!”

A few issues come to mind, however, as to why this may not be such a great thing for passengers.

First, United says that the fees are nonrefundable. So if a trip is canceled, that’s one more penalty often on top of a change fee. And that’s not even getting into what happens when the airline cancels flights. Even if they endorse a ticket to a competitor, will they cover the other airlines fees?

Next, how smoothly is this going to work? For example, will the system always have a record of the prepayment, especially if the passenger doesn’t have the receipt with them at the airport.

We’d be fine with the deceptive language only if they agreed to call the new fees a “surprise airport surcharge!”

U.S./Canada checked baggage [United]
Checking bags? Pay online. It’s worth it! [US Airways]
FEE ALERT: United & US Airways Raise Bag Fees (except online) [Rick Seaney]
United asks the question: “When is a fee increase not a fee increase?” [Tripso]
(Photo: opacity)