Here we go again
Another Airline charging Nuisance fees:
By MICHELINE MAYNARD
Published: June 13, 2008
United Airlines said Thursday that it would begin charging many passengers on Friday to check their first bag, joining American Airlines in assessing a $15 luggage fee for passengers flying on the cheapest tickets.
American announced plans last month to begin the first-bag fee. The charge is set to take effect on tickets purchased on Sunday and beyond.
But United’s announcement means that it will actually be first in the domestic industry to assess the fee for many travelers. The airline said it expected about a third of its domestic passengers to be required to pay the $15.
United was also the first airline to charge $25 to check a second bag earlier this year. Many airlines began those fees in May. Other airlines could soon follow.
The new fee is likely to make the fight for already-tight space on planes more fierce, as passengers try to stuff more carry-on luggage into overhead bins.
Milissa DuPage, a United passenger who works for a pharmaceutical company, said Thursday that she would begin carrying on her bag, which she normally checked so that she could avoid the security restriction on liquids.
“I guess I’ll just have to get everything under 3 ounces,” said Ms. DuPage, of Harsens Island, Mich., who was interviewed in the baggage claim area of Detroit’s airport. “Plus then I won’t have to sit and wait for it like I am now.”
The announcement by United means the nation’s two largest airlines will now charge passengers on discounted tickets in coach class to check their bags. Both are exempting premium members of the frequent-flier clubs, as well as passengers on full-fare tickets, those traveling in business or first class, and overseas travelers.
“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,” United’s chief financial officer, John Tague, said in a statement.
United said it was also raising fees for passengers checking three or more bags, for passengers who check heavy bags and items that require special handling.
The new bag fees would affect one out of three travelers in the United States, the airline said, and generate revenue of about $275 million a year. American has not given a revenue estimate, but said it expected the fee would be paid by about 25 percent of its passengers.
Airlines are facing cost pressures from high prices for jet fuel, which are up 91.5 percent compared with 2008, according to the latest data from the International Air Transport Association.
Many have imposed fare increases, fuel surcharges and other fees in an effort to fend off the increase. However, American’s move late last month resulted in heated criticism from passenger advocates, who said it took away a basic component of travel.
United’s shares are up 27 cents, to $7.49.