United Airlines Increases Baggage Fees In Step With JetBlue, Air Canada And WestJet
By: Grant Martin
United Airlines has become the first U.S. legacy air carrier to raise its baggage fees in what has become an expensive week for North American air travelers.
The week started with news that JetBlue was suddenly increasing baggage fees by 20% for most passengers for flights booked after August 27th. Mere hours later, both Air Canada and WestJet, the second largest carrier in Canada, followed in JetBlue’s footsteps. All three carriers ended up raising first-checked-bag fees to $30 from $25 while second-bag fees went to $40 from $35. JetBlue, alone, raised its third and later checked baggage fees from $100 to $150 while oversize and overweight bags saw a similar increase.
JetBlue, Air Canada and WestJet pointed to increasing operating costs and tighter competition as justification for the increased fees, saying that it had been several years since the fees had gone up.
On Friday, Bloomberg reported that United Airlines quietly made the same change, citing similar justification. “As we continue to make investments that make travel on United better, we are making adjustments to our checked bag fees in select markets — most of which have not been changed for the past eight years,” a spokesperson for the airline told Bloomberg. Similar statements were sent to frontline staff to share with customers curious or perhaps unhappy about the changes, according to Skift’s Brian Sumers.
First-checked-bag fees have now gone up from $25 to $30 on United, while second-bag fees have gone up from $35 to $40. Second-bag fees for flights to and from Canadian markets have also been moved up to $50. The changes went into effect immediately.
United’s move came as a surprise to very few industry analysts and insiders who have seen the airline hustle to show that it can compete against American and Delta this year. Earlier in 2018, many expressed doubt when the airline expanded capacity out of three of its hubs, potentially pushing demand, fares and profits down. By mid July, however, that gamble had paid off as capacity filled up; between mid July and September, the airline’s stock has gone up by over 20%.