United checked baggage fees are being raised by $5

United Airlines recently announced that it will be raising checked bag fees for most travelers flying coach within North America. This move comes as part of a trend among major U.S. carriers to increase fees for checked bags, with American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and JetBlue all making similar announcements earlier this year. United’s decision to raise fees by $5 per bag is seen as a response to rising costs for fuel and labor in the airline industry.

Starting on Saturday, Feb. 24, United will charge travelers $40 for their first checked bag, up from the current fee of $35. Customers who prepay to check a bag at least 24 hours ahead of their flight will receive a $5 discount. Similarly, the fee for a second checked bag will increase from $45 to $50, or $45 if prepaid. These changes will not apply to long-haul international flights.

United’s decision to raise fees marks the first time the airline has done so since 2020. While the Chicago-based carrier did not provide specific reasons for the increase, other U.S. carriers have cited cost headwinds, including higher fuel and labor costs, as driving factors behind similar fee hikes.

The move by United is part of a larger trend in the airline industry, with four of the six largest U.S. airlines now having raised checked bag fees in 2024. This includes two of the Big Three legacy carriers, American and United. Delta Air Lines has not yet announced any plans to increase fees, leaving customers to speculate on whether the airline will follow suit.

In contrast to its competitors, Southwest Airlines continues to offer its passengers two free checked bags, a policy that executives frequently highlight as a hallmark of the airline’s service. This commitment to customer service sets Southwest apart from other carriers, and it is unlikely that the airline will change its policy on checked bag fees anytime soon.

While customers may not be thrilled about paying more for checked bags on United, the airline is anticipating the arrival of hundreds of new aircraft over the coming years. These new planes are expected to have enough overhead bin space for every passenger’s carry-on bag, potentially alleviating some of the stress and inconvenience associated with checked bag fees.

Overall, the increase in checked bag fees by United and other major U.S. airlines reflects the ongoing challenges facing the airline industry, including rising costs and changing consumer preferences. As airlines continue to adjust their fee structures in response to these challenges, customers can expect to see further changes in the future.

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