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Baggage Check: US Airways Follows United With $25 Fee Per Extra Bag

Carol Sottili

We knew it was only a matter of time. US Airways became the second major domestic carrier to announce it will begin charging $25 for a second piece of checked luggage. United, which codeshares with US Airways, was the first when it announced earlier this month that it would start charging for an extra bag.

US Airways' policy is similar to United's: The charge for a second checked bag is $25. Any additional bags are $100 each. Heavy bags (those over 50 pounds) will also incur extra fees. Also, those who pay more for their tickets or who are serious frequent fliers (Dividend Miles Preferred members, those flying first or envoy class, and Star Alliance members holding silver status or higher) are exempt from the $25 charge.

But US Airways has taken it a step further: International travel is not exempt, as is the case on United. US Airways offers only a couple of nonstop international flights to the Caribbean from Reagan National, but it flies from all three of our region's airports to many international destinations via its hubs in Philadelphia and Charlotte.
Also, to add a quick response to the blogger comment on car seats: The new policy allows a stroller or car seat and one free checked bag per infant. And unaccompanied minors and active duty military in uniform are exempt from the new policy.

When United announced its new policy, we asked our chatters if they were more likely to book with another airline in light of the new fee. The overwhelming majority (80 percent) said yes.

Let us know:

By Carol Sottili |  February 27, 2008; 12:24 PM ET  | Category:  Airline Industry , Carol Sottili , Travel Logistics
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Great -- so more carry on luggage jamming the overhead racks.

Are they going to charge for child car seats and so forth?

Posted by: ah | February 27, 2008 1:50 PM

Wow, they are so going to kill their business in Philadelphia. Once word of this gets out it's goign to take a heck of a price cut on their part to molify peopel who like going to Europe and brining stuff back with them other than the clothes on their back.

Posted by: EricS | February 27, 2008 1:54 PM

so, will the floodgates now open and every other carrier add the same fees? Then everyone is stuck paying no matter whom they fly with.

Posted by: Glenn | February 27, 2008 2:04 PM

I almost never have more than one checked bag. I will still go out of my way to avoid United and US Airways. When money-grubbing of that sort takes priority over the basics of customer service, the airline is no longer going to provide even a decently pleasant flying experience.
'Course, I stopped flying United when I had to fly cross-country with my toddler son, and they had no priority boarding for parents with small children (or for the elderly, or the handicapped). That was plain stupid, as those of us who needed more time to get to our seats and get seated (because of crutches, or wheelchairs, or disabilities, or the need to strap in a carseat) held up everyone else, and made boarding that much more difficult for everybody.

Posted by: Katja | February 27, 2008 2:16 PM

Let me be clear: I think this does suck. Yet another way for the airlines (who are constantly rearranging their finances and getting federal bailouts) to nickel and dime customers.

But somehow, I can't get too ruffled over this.

First, on United, checking car seats and strollers is still free - US Air seems to be a bit more nebulous on that.

http://www.united.com/page/article/0,6722,52519,00.html

http://www.usairways.com/awa/content/FAQs/newpolicy.aspx#whatisit

Also remember: if you purchase more expensive tickets or are some sort of "Premier" member, you aren't charged either. This is purely for (quoting United) "Non-members or General Members of Mileage Plus on non-refundable Economy fares or Economy Saver Award Ticket" So if you are a frequent and/or high end traveler, there really isn't any change (at present).

And if you do have a "premier/elite" traveler and you need to check an extra bag - it doesn't look like they are stopping you from assigning it to that person in the party.

Though I'm interested - how many people check in more than one large 50 lb bag per passenger? Could we maybe have a poll on that? Because the original article on the United changes said that around 25% of travelers check more than one bag on a plane. Hefty percentage, yes, but certainly not a majority.

I fly several times a year, and I've only done it once. When flying home to attend the funeral of my grandmother, we brought a third bag so that we could bring some items back that she had wanted me to have (and were sturdy enough to stand up to airport baggage handling). Other than that, my husband and I are usually just fine with one checked suitcase and one smallish carry-on apiece for a two-week trip.

I can see maybe if you have children bringing lots of kids stuff...but if you paid for the children's tickets, then they are allowed a bag as well. Take advantage of that, because tipping a SkyCap to help you bring your bags to the check-in line is still less expensive than these extra baggage fees ;)

Posted by: Chasmosaur | February 27, 2008 2:29 PM

Far more money to be made by simply using the weigh-scale at the check-in counter to make ticket prices charge by the pound for some of these spandex clad behemoths that continually block doors and aisles.

Posted by: George | February 27, 2008 2:30 PM

Katja is right. We started avoiding United long before they imposed the fees because of their money-grubbing policies in other amenities. As for US Airways, does anyone actually fly on that airline if they can avoid it?

Now, we will absolutely refuse to fly on either airline if skiing or golf is involved. No way will we pay an extra $100 per person. We're headed out to the Sierra Nevadas next week for our annual ski trip and are flying Continental instead of United for the first time in 10 years. Your loss, United.

Posted by: HisRoc | February 27, 2008 2:33 PM

I've been Silver Preferred on US Airways, and am about to start moving all my flying over to another airline, even though US Airways is by far the best out of National Airport. The constant nickel-and-dime routine, the continual erosion of preferred benefits and quality within the cabin, the poor operations (who hasn't been stuck waiting for baggage at National for 30 minutes, or waiting for delayed flights with no explanation), etc., are all enough to drive me away.

One thing to note - US Airways no longer gives Dividend Miles members a full 500 miles for short hop flights of less than 500 miles. This little bonus being removed means that anyone flying between DC and their major airports like like Philly, Charlotte, LaGuardia, Pittburgh, etc. is going to take a big hit when it comes to earning preferred status and earning miles to redeem. Yet another example of the folks in Tempe, who formerly operated a second-rate regional airline with a few national routes, not understanding the East Coast marketplace, the habits of their very-frequent-flyers, or how to maintain loyalty among your best customers.

Posted by: DC Mike | February 27, 2008 2:48 PM

So we want cheap fares, no extra fees, no overbooking, seats with enough leg and body room, no restrictions on luggage, and good cabin service. What if we can't have all these things because of economic forces? Which would we rather give up?

Posted by: mizzie | February 27, 2008 4:02 PM

My god, who carries that much baggage? The clothes on your back plus 2-3 more days' worth (and yes, I am female) is all you need no matter how long your trip is. Traveling is not about carrying your closet around with you!

Posted by: On the go all the time | February 27, 2008 4:48 PM

I wish airlines would charge fliers for their carry-on luggage -- by the pound! That would certainly help keep people from hogging all the overhead bins and delaying boarding as they try to stuff a huge bag into a smaller overhead bin, squashing everything else in the bin.

Posted by: Washington Dame | February 27, 2008 7:22 PM

I always check two bags. Each is small. This is because I have hand and shoulder problems and can only handle lightweight bags. Together they might weigh 35 pounds. I carry a single handbag on board that holds handbag stuff, plus my meds, my book and my blow-up neck pillow. Nobody has to wait for me to get seated. I really think the charge ought to be for the carry-on stuff, which slows everybody down. But who can blame people who carry their big bags on, for this is how they make sure they don't have lost luggage.
This is really not a good move by these two airlines.

Posted by: Disabled | February 27, 2008 9:10 PM

United's policy is okay with me; it's unlikely I'd have a second piece of checked luggage on a domestic flight. US Airways is being stupid, though; unless their international fares are somewhat their below competitors', why fly with them?

One downside that hasn't been mentioned is that this sort of policy will encourage people to carry on more things, which will make the cabin even more cramped. The only upside for passengers is that loading and unloading the cargo hold will take less time.

Posted by: William | February 27, 2008 9:10 PM

Useless Airways baggage charge is not a detriment, it's a BENEFIT: the Lost Luggage Prevention Fee.

Posted by: Mister Methane | February 27, 2008 10:49 PM

Get used to it guys; the rest of the legacies will follow suit soon, and with crude prices where they are, it wouldn't surprise me too much if the LCCs implemented this as well.

Posted by: Liz | February 28, 2008 8:35 AM

Excellent point, Disabled. Stupid of me not to have thought of it myself (especially since I develop accessibility for web sites...*hits self in forehead*)

Perhaps you should write to these airlines and ask if there's going to be a medical waiver of some form?

Posted by: Chasmosaur | February 28, 2008 9:11 AM

They blame this on weight, well I weigh 178lbs and it is certain half the people on that plane weigh nearly 50lbs more than me--the weight of the extra bag--and they aren't being charged for it. I've already forgotten my twice annual trips to Jamaica and my FF miles can gather dust, with every other restriction and delays making flying hell, I'm staying home.

Posted by: John | March 15, 2008 12:25 AM

Yes, but can you still (on US Airways) check a car seat for a TODDLER for free? And can you still check a stroller at the gate? That's all I care about!

Posted by: Kristina B. Valcarce | May 8, 2008 6:00 PM

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