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Monday Rant, Part 2: United's New $25 Checked Bag Policy

Carol Sottili

Big announcement from United Airlines this morning: Domestic passengers will have to pony up $25 to check a second piece of luggage. The policy change applies to travel on or after May 5, and to tickets purchased today or later.

The new policy appears targeted at the occasional leisure traveler: It applies to customers purchasing nonrefundable domestic economy tickets who do not have either at least premier status in United's Mileage Plus programs, or silver status in a Star Alliance program.

About 25 percent of its travelers check a second bag, according to United, and the airline believes its new surcharge will generate $100 million in revenue a year. The company faced bankruptcy just a few years ago, but in 2007, it earned a net income of $403 million (its first year of profit since 2000).

United is the first major U.S. carrier to charge for checked bags, but the policy is not uncommon among foreign carriers. It started with the discount European carriers: Most charge $10 to $20 for each piece of checked baggage. And then British Airways joined in, charging for a second piece of checked bags (but not on flights from/to the United States). Discount carriers were also the first to charge for snacks, and for exit row seats or an assigned seat. The so-called legacy airlines are taking notice, and I think you'll see more of those type of user fees from the majors.

I think it's easy to make the argument that this is just another way for a big cat airline to wring extra bucks out of the regular guy who flies just a couple of times a year. But that may be too simplistic. Maybe it is fair that those who pay the least for a seat on the plane ante up for any extras in order to level the playing (paying) field. I know that it won't make any difference to me: I never travel with more than one checked bag.

But for those who are going on a long trip or traveling to an event that requires a large wardrobe (think cruise), it could be a hardship.

What do you think?

And let's vote on this:

By Carol Sottili |  February 4, 2008; 12:58 PM ET  | Category:  Airline Industry , Carol Sottili , Monday Rants
Previous: The Monday Rant: Nonsmoking Rooms . . .That Aren't | Next: Insta-CoGo: Secure Your Shoes

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$25 seems a bit much, but I don't have a problem with charging. It's the wave of the future - cheaper fares and charges for everything. Look at Skybus - they have flight attendants working on commission.

I do hope this comes with along with a crackdown on oversize carry-ons, because people are going to try to carry on all kinds of ridiculous stuff now.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 4, 2008 1:40 PM

I think the planes will become even more stuffed with obese bags than is the case now. Another customer-unfriendly act from the Unfriendly skies of United

Posted by: hmreisner | February 4, 2008 1:40 PM

GREAT!!! More bags on the plane and less checked baggage.

I often check two bags cause I hate to carry stuff around with me while on the plane and in teh airport.

If this happend everyone will now try to carry more stuff on board, check the big bag, take teh medium roll on in teh over head and teh briefcase under the seat.

I don't understand how more stuff on the plane is a good situation for everyone.

Posted by: colossus911 | February 4, 2008 1:48 PM

Honestly, the charges won't affect me directly -- I usually either put everything in a carryon for weekend trips (a small one that fits under the seat in front of me, not some big thing that passes for one) or only check one bag if I'll be gone for longer; however, I too see a possibility for people bringing truly oversized carryons and taking up more of the limited space in the cabin.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 4, 2008 2:06 PM

It seems like this could create all kinds of obnoxious passenger behavior - bringing ridiculous carry-ons (will they then be charged if those bags have to be checked at the gate?), or checking only one bag but making it obnoxiously large. And all these problems will just make life harder for the United employees who have to deal with those customers. I think it's a dumb plan.

Posted by: h3 | February 4, 2008 2:12 PM

So are they doing away with the 50lb weight limit per piece of checked baggage, then?

Posted by: travels | February 4, 2008 2:20 PM

I look at this as an idiot tax - only complete morons check bags... pack lighter or stay home.

Posted by: who checks their bags? | February 4, 2008 2:47 PM

Any new cost is an annoyance at first, but really isn't a big deal. Anyone who can afford to travel on airplanes for long leisure trips can afford $25. Perhaps it will encourage people to pack lighter and will save fossil fuels.

Posted by: Juan | February 4, 2008 3:00 PM

Who needs to check two bags? Unless you're moving or spending a month with out access to laundry I can't imagine why you would need to travel with that much luggage.

Posted by: Elizabeth | February 4, 2008 3:41 PM

I'd rather they charge $25 for the people who bring multiple bags on board the plan and take all the overhead space. How some of those people pass the 'only one bag plus a personal bag' is beyond me.

Posted by: Chris | February 4, 2008 3:41 PM

The biggest thing that will suffer here is the transparency of the pricing. Right now when Orbitz says your flight is going to cost $X, it is going to cost $X. If fees and surcharges become a norm, you could see airfares start to look a lot more like cellphone bills. Particularly where there is a certain "gotcha" aspect to the surcharge.

Posted by: Alan | February 4, 2008 3:56 PM

Any extra charges ought to be made very clear when purchasing through a price-comparison site. Otherwise, we may soon see extra charges for the waiting space, the jetway, the lice, the mice, and looking in the mirror twice. And the airline that offers a ticket to London for $189, but charges $1,000 for use of the jetway, will make a killing.

Perhaps Orbitz et al. ought to come up with a "typical passenger price" that reflects the extra charges the average customer racks up. That would make it easier to figure out what the cost of a flight will be. Or perhaps the sites could ask about the customers' needs, so that the prices could be tailored to the individual customer.

And to the folks who think checking bags is a bad idea: It actually is a very good idea, given airport security. There's no need to worry about whether you have more than three ounces of shaving cream or toothpaste if you check your toiletries.

Posted by: Philautos | February 4, 2008 4:06 PM

"But for those who are going on a long trip or traveling to an event that requires a large wardrobe (think cruise), it could be a hardship."
LOL $5,000 for a fly/cruise and $25 is a "hardship" LOL All those that say they'll fly another airline...will be the first in line! Talk is cheap...so is $25. Uhhh...maybe pack lighter? You can tell novice travelers by their luggage!

Posted by: FreqFlyer | February 4, 2008 4:13 PM

The unfortunate point is to allow United to advertise lower prices, but take in higher revenue through fees. As long as it is disclosed, I guess it's OK. But they already charge a fee for food, which used to be free, and it makes you wonder what else they can charge a fee for.

Posted by: Tom | February 4, 2008 5:10 PM

I make 3-4 roundtrip flights a month for work and I often have to check more than one bag due to the liquid and carry-on restrictions. I'm usually only gone for a few days at a time, so I don't need multiple bags, but there is only so much you can take in one garment bag. That said, I take United only when I have absolutely no other choice (I've flown to a city other than my final destination and driven several hours just to avoid United and their horrible service/on-time arrivals).

Posted by: frequent flier | February 4, 2008 5:20 PM

What a pain this will be for travel for sports such as skiing and scuba diving, which usually cause us to check an extra bag, or baby stuff (we travel with only an extra tshirt and a toothbrush for each of my husband and I, and still end up checking a ton of luggage for the baby). When are they going to start charging us for use of the chair?

Posted by: tucsonmom | February 4, 2008 5:32 PM

Sorry, max weight per checked bag remains at 50 lbs. Oversized bags or those that weigh more than 50 lbs. will cost $100.00 per bag.

Posted by: Carol Sottili | February 4, 2008 5:32 PM

I can think of lots of times when it would be difficult to keep luggage down to one bag: traveling to colder climates, which requires bulkier clothing; traveling with lap children (or even non-lap kids who just seem to require a lot of stuff); traveling with Christmas or other types of presents. As a student who traveled overseas for a semester of classes, I had a bag just for textbooks. And to those who smugly deride others with multiple bags as being novice travelers, you have no idea of their circumstances.

Regarding the 50 lb weigth limit: Our large suitcase weighed in at 15 lbs empty. So we switched to carrying two much smaller, lighter bags to make things easier for the baggage handlers. I'm guessing people will now go back to stuffing everything in to one large, very heavy bag. This can't be a good thing.

Posted by: kso | February 4, 2008 5:43 PM

I guess I'll be one of those travellers who never check bags -- schlepping tons of luggage onto the aircraft and taking up all the room in the overhear bins.

Posted by: colorado kool aid | February 4, 2008 6:21 PM

I wish they would get rid of ALL OVERHEAD STORAGE. You bring it on...you hold it in your lap.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 4, 2008 7:10 PM

I wish they would get rid of ALL OVERHEAD STORAGE. You bring it on...you hold it in your lap.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 4, 2008 7:10 PM

So you leisure travelers can go with one bag. More power to you. I"m a working professional photographer and often travel with two bags carefully packed to 50 pounds each.

Glad you guys are getting a kick out of this, but UA will lose my business in a New York minute with this BS.

Posted by: Stretch | February 4, 2008 9:25 PM

I would expect this from a budget airline...not a major. But with UA charging for curb side checking....its not completely shocking. However, it seems more a function of revenue maximization, not an effort to improve customer service- for this fee what is given in return? Will it increase my odds that the bags will actually be there on the other end? I used to carry on all the time, but often fail the litmus test for # of ounces/container/small zip lock bag. I also work in the field of biomed so I often check my bag plus my eqiupment...the pelican cases packed already costs my company $50.00(>50 lbs)and now we can tack on an additional $25.00 for a total of $75.00 per one way trip...keep doing the math and that really adds up if your a business owner footing that bill. Keep in mind that its not always possible to ship in advance either.

Posted by: alexb | February 4, 2008 9:55 PM

You say: "Maybe it is fair that those who pay the least for a seat on the plane ante up for any extras in order to level the playing (paying) field."

Well, it isn't necessarily the case that the fares paid by frequent fliers are lower than those paid by others. I'm the very definition of a United frequent flier--I have had 1K status for the past 14 years and have flown over 2 million miles with United. But...I always buy discounted economy seats. I get put in Economy Plus because of my status, and that's good enough for me except when I travel for 8 hours or more, in which case I upgrade to business.

Still, maybe this will encourage some to travel a bit lighter. I'm in the midst of a 15-day international trip and managed with one checked bag (a small one at that) and one carry-on.

I guess the policy doesn't upset me that much because I've seen it in place in much of the rest of the world.

Posted by: Bwana | February 4, 2008 10:02 PM

I have no problem with the charge for second bags. I would just want the policy to be applied evenly.

I'd rather they charged people who exceed some limit regarding carry-ons. Too many people are obnoxious about carry-ons and take more than their fair share of space.

P.S. My thanks to gate attendants who force users to check large carry-ons. It must be hard to break the news to that particular customer, but it makes flying better for the rest of us.

Posted by: bcoons | February 5, 2008 3:02 AM

i won't fly united anyways. i have had nothing but terrible experiences with united for the past several years.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 5, 2008 6:30 AM

Well I haven't flown United for years, but if others start following.... I am glad someone pointed out that some business travelers do check more than one bag. I just flew back from a 2 week trip for work in the Toronto area. Since I knew the hotel that I was staying at had a guest laundry I packed work clothes for six days. (I do need a little variety, and at $4 a load I didn't want to be washing 1/4 of a load) But I also packed a hoodie and a few work out clothes. Those few extra items forced me into a second smaller bag ( I didn't want to take my huge bag) I checked both of them and carried on my backpack. I could have carried on the smaller bag, but I like to have a little leg room!!!! If push comes to shove I will poney up the money for a little comfort.

Posted by: rja112 | February 5, 2008 6:33 AM

Because of the hassles in getting "carry on" thru multiple security inspections, the flying public is already more likely to "check a bag" and if time isn't a real priority at the other end, even to check a bag that might otherwise be carried into the cabin.

However, for those who fly frequently or who are making short trips, and can't wait three or more days for their "lost/misrouted" baggage to catch up, carry on is the only possible option, which means that the overhead bins are absolutely stuffed, often far beyond the weight limit that Mr. Boeing and Ms. Airbus so helpfully print, in rather small print, on each bin lid.

UAL already charges you if you're bag is over some weight (I think 55 pounds) which even with a small rolling bag is easy to do, and with a full size bag very easy to do. So, a fair number of people check the clothes and carry the heavy stuff, frequently in backpacks and shoulder bags.

The new proposal, to charge for the second bag, is just a precursor, my friend: the next thing will be to charge for carry on.

Wait and see, and remember, you read it here first.

Posted by: Judy from Fairfax | February 5, 2008 6:37 AM

Living abroad I usually fly on United to connect from a major airport to my hometown so I don't think the charge will affect me.

That said, I feel like the airlines are nickel and diming customers while the service gets worse. Comforts such as blankets have all but disappeared and food and beverage service is a joke, especially with the liquid rules. (I used to always carry my own one-liter water bottle onboard-- now it's not always possible to even provide these things for yourself, depending on the gate/security layout.)

Flying isn't what it once was!

Posted by: American abroad | February 5, 2008 7:35 AM

Well, I am a jazz musician who travels for a living. Believe me, most of us travel very lightly and forego most creature comforts on our long tours, but we do need to bring our musical instruments along, frequently having to check them in their heavy and bulky flight cases.

Since all of the new security measure of the past few years, carrying on instruments has gotten harder to do all over the world. Now the cabins will be more overstuffed AND we will be charged more for our checked in baggage... Thank you United Airlines for giving me more reasons to sing the blues...

Posted by: Jimi | February 5, 2008 8:18 AM

How about charging extra for people who are obese, or otherwise can't fit into a regular coach seat? Say you are over 275 pounds, you have to fly Business or First, or need to book 2 economy seats. Certainly these people cost as much as a 50lb. bag to fly in terms of extra fuel...

Posted by: Anonymous | February 5, 2008 8:36 AM

I second kso's comments - some of us are very experienced travelers, but there are definitely times when two bags are necessary -- in particular, if you're a five-foot-tall woman like me who can't hoist around the bigger, heavier bags. And there ARE those of who LIKE the people we go visit and like to take gifts and other things to share!!!!

So please don't call people who check bags 'morons,' it's just not necessary. As KSO said, you have no idea of other people's circumstances, and why should you care so much as to disparage people who make different choices than you?

As for United, I think it's a terrible move. Sure, budget airlines can get away with this stuff, but United is one of the bigs. This is ridiculous.

Posted by: kbs | February 5, 2008 9:09 AM

I am a backpacker. Not one of these, "I'll carry my pack to a hostel or hotel" but the kind of backpacker that hikes into Rocky Mountain National Park in the winter and camps. It is not practical for me to pack everything in one bag. I'll avoid United and their miserly ways.

Posted by: Jack S. | February 5, 2008 9:25 AM

All of you who whine that "i'm not a novice traveller, but I have X circumstances that require me to have a big, bulky second bag ergo this plan sucks" have stupidly made an excellent case for United's new plan. You think it's a lousy system that the airline is going to charge you to check your musical instrument, photography equipment, skis, baby gear that many of you noted is bulky and weighs alot. Duh. Then it makes absolute sense in a fair world that you should be charged extra for this. Just because you have no other choice for packing that item doesn't mean you shouldn't pay for the extra charges associated with it. Bulky and heavy means extra cost for the airline - added labor costs and added fuel costs. In an era where airlines are trying to keep costs low, why should the 20% of you who ship more than the rest of us get to freeload off the system?

Also - regarding the comments that people will bring on more carry-on bags, I'm guessing that airlines will be expecting this and consequently enforce or even tighten the rules more. Europe already has a much stricter carry-on policy than the states.

The lesson: Don't use an airline as a free shipping service. If it would cost $100 to ship by UPS, it's going to cost you something to ship by United.

Posted by: washington, dc | February 5, 2008 9:33 AM

So when are they going to institute a coin operated lavatory?

Posted by: Next: Pay to pee | February 5, 2008 9:39 AM

I didn't say that my second item is bulky and oversize. It's usually not. It's just a second item. It's probably less strain on the baggage handlers, too, than having to heave one HUGE suitcase than two smaller ones.

Posted by: kbs | February 5, 2008 9:47 AM

Carol, I know that the poll is unscientific, but the question is being answered by people who are interested in travel and are, more likely than not, to be people who do a fair amount of travel by air. So, I would think that the United Customer Care (ok, let's all laugh) folks might be interested in what this poll shows. Do you plan to pass on the results? (BTW, at the time I am writing this, 78% are against the policy.)

Posted by: Former United Flyer | February 5, 2008 10:09 AM

I don't believe that, prior to May 5, I wasn't paying for that 2nd Check bag already. It was already figured in to the cost of my ticket.

I'd have no problem with this policy if UA was lowering the cost of their tickets by $50.00, and charging $25 for every checked bag. That would make sense, and be fair.

But it appears the price of the ticket (which included 2 checked bags on May 4th) is staying the same. Which means their asking me to pay double for a checked bag. That's wrong.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 5, 2008 10:25 AM

I don't believe that, prior to May 5, I wasn't paying for that 2nd Check bag already. It was already figured in to the cost of my ticket.

I'd have no problem with this policy if UA was lowering the cost of their tickets by $50.00, and charging $25 for every checked bag. That would make sense, and be fair.

But it appears the price of the ticket (which included 2 checked bags on May 4th) is staying the same. Which means their asking me to pay double for a checked bag. That's wrong.

Posted by: MDLaxer | February 5, 2008 10:27 AM

Remember, they already charge $50 for a third bag. This isn't that different. People will just have to factor this fee in to determine the total cost of flying on United.

Posted by: Tom T. | February 5, 2008 10:31 AM

Can a $25 charge really be considered a "hardship" for folks flying to a seaport to join up with a sea cruise?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 5, 2008 10:46 AM

To answer the blogger's question about sharing our results with United, the blog is open to all, and I'm sure that someone from United is monitoring these results. When I blogged about Southwest's change in boarding policies, a marketing manager from Southwest joined in, saying that she was monitoring to gauge reaction to their change in policy. They are curious about public perception, although they're more interested in seeing reaction in dollars and cents.

Posted by: Carol Sottili | February 5, 2008 11:26 AM

Umm...for those of you who think its ridiculous to check in bags, try traveling with young children for longer than a weekend.

Between clothes, a few toys, and food or formula (especially if you are flying to the Carribean or a new place outside the US) the bag fills up quickly.

I have traveled all over the world and know how to pack lightly, however, having toddlers in tow changes the equation. So, yes I think this policy is ridiculous and another way to get $$ for travelers. The fares are not any lower. There are already restrictions on luggage size and weight. All I see them doing is taking their inability to compete with other carriers out on their passengers.

I will be re-evaluating my mileage plus account and United mileage credit card.

Posted by: Traveling with Children | February 5, 2008 11:44 AM

As a business traveler I regularly fly United out of Dulles, because it offers more non-stops to more cities. As a leisure traveler (primarily skiing, which requires a second bag) I often find the best fares are on American or Southwest out of BWI, so I fly those.

I guess these new fees won't affect my travel habits much, given that United already had some of the highest economy fares in the region anyway.

It's always been obvious to me that United's strategy has been to focus primarily on the business traveler and couldn't care less about the leisure traveler. Business travel is where the revenue is.

Notice, elite frequent flyers, first-class, business-class and refundable fares will continue to check a second bag for free.

Posted by: Jaredd | February 5, 2008 12:18 PM

Somebody already metioned this, but in all seriousness, how long can it be before we see pay toilets re-instituted, either in the airports or on board the planes? I remember when we had them in airports. Get ready to bring a pocketful of quarters that you'll have to take out at security.

Posted by: Scott | February 5, 2008 12:34 PM

I'm a frequent business traveler and have 1P status with United, so this change will not affect me one bit, but here's my take on it anyway:

Some business travelers do need to check two or more items. If your business has you traveling frequently on United, then your resulting elite status will exempt you (same if you are paying full fare without status). If you don't have status, then you're probably flying mostly on a different airline, so you will not pay the extra baggage fee on united very often. And when you do pay it, it is a business expense, and a small fraction of the ticket price.

If you are a leisure traveler without status, I suggest that you look at the price you paid for your ticket and compare it to the price you would have paid for the same ticket 20-30 years ago (adjusted for inflation). You said for years that your air travel will go to the carrier with the absolute lowest fare, all other considerations aside. Now the fares are very cheap (relative to historical prices), and yet you still complain that they are not cheap enough. United (and all of the other airlines) know that you will just switch to some other carrier for your next trip if their price is $5 cheaper, so why should they invest in keeping you happy?

I will continue to fly United, even if I have to pay an occasional extra fee. The extra leg room in economy plus is worth the cost! Also, I've traveled internationally for 2 weeks, with no laundry facilities, using only a 21" carry on and my backpack; based on that I think that some people need to re-evaluate what they are bringing with them. If I added a single checked bag to such a trip, I would have enough stuff for a month!

Posted by: cb | February 5, 2008 12:41 PM

If the fee came with a guarantee the bag would actually get there, it might be worth it.

Posted by: Sandy | February 5, 2008 12:43 PM

Actually, I think this is a pretty smart way to make up for additional fuel costs. It will hopefully encourage those that can/should to travel lighter, and for those that can't--why shouldn't you pay more, since you're costing the airline more to transport you and your stuff? I say this as a scuba diver, videographer, and bass player (not usually all at once), that often has to travel with extra, often heavy equipment.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 5, 2008 12:47 PM

Airlines should charge for bringing on board luggage that should have been checked. Make people pay when they work onto the plane. That'll stop people from refusing to check their huge bags and hogging all the overhead bins.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | February 5, 2008 12:59 PM

The new fee is a big deal for someone like me, a college student. A few times a year, we fly back and forth from home to school with no other options. $25 here and there to working professionals may not be much, but for a college student that could be food for 2 weeks. And we can't just shove everything in one bag. When I went home for Christmas break, I had to have one suitcase checked full of books for writing a thesis. This is not something I could squish to add room for clothes.

Posted by: College student | February 5, 2008 1:32 PM

Do we get a refund when the bag is delayed or misplaced?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 5, 2008 1:40 PM

To the gentelman that feels there should be a site that helps tailor the fees and pricing to the customers needs. That is what a travel agent is for. The online booking engines don't always the best for your vacation.

Posted by: Mike | February 5, 2008 2:06 PM

I have to agree with 'Traveling with Children'. Put a couple of kids on the plane and, boom, you're over the 1 bag/seat limit. Also, how are items checked at the gate counted? Specifically, strollers? Or, for those who think children shouldn't be on planes anyway, wheelchairs?

Posted by: Also Traveling with Children | February 5, 2008 2:20 PM

This is just GREED on United's part. It article said they expect to make an extra $100 million by doing this and in 2007 they had a net income of $401 million. As taxpayers WE bailed them out in the past and now they are going to stick it to us.

Posted by: katesgram | February 5, 2008 2:26 PM

Re "Traveling with Children" and "Also Traveling with Children": Remember that the children are each allowed a checked bag. Are you really bringing so much stuff that you need more than 4 checked bags for 2 adults and 2 children?

(I know, if the kid is under 2, you don't have to buy them a seat. IMO that's a policy that should be changed but that's a separate rant. And yes, I have kids and we always bought them a seat.)


Posted by: What am I missing | February 5, 2008 3:43 PM

"I look at this as an idiot tax - only complete morons check bags... pack lighter or stay home."

With the pretense of increased "security" that has plagued our nation's air travel more and more over the last 6 1/3 years, I never carry on more than a book and my ipod. Of course, I never have more than one checked bag either, but this is going to have major impacts come next Christmas traveling season.

Tangential rant: Get us some real security in our airports instead of this "take off your shoes, no outside food or drink, one clear plastic bag with no more than 3 total ounces of liquids in original containers, no nail clippers, mini scissors, pencils, lathing tools, belt buckles, drinking straws, rubber bands, soap, or anything else you might conceivably McGuyver into a weapon or noisemaking device" pseudo-security run by minimum wage ex-convict foreign rent-a-cops.

Posted by: Dave | February 5, 2008 5:35 PM

This is ridiculous. I always check two bags. I would avoid flying with that airline if possible if they're going to be that petty. Or else, allow me 70 pounds for the one bag I can check.
Or give me $25 off the ticket price.

Posted by: christi b | February 6, 2008 11:33 AM

Skiers will just have to use a different airline.

Charge more for fat people. I'll take overstuffed overhead bins rather than overstuff seats, anyday.

Posted by: John Connelly | February 6, 2008 11:45 AM

I travel with 2 small bags because I cannot lift a larger suitcase. And yes, even with wheels, a bag has to be lifted onto and off of shuttles, up and down stairs, etc. Good luck with getting anyone to help you. So - the two smaller bags that hook together for wheeling about and which I can lift separately if need be. I am not a moron, I'm just not as strong as I used to be.
Why don't they charge by the weight, instead of by the number of items? My two little bags are much easier for the handlers than one huge overstuffed on would be.

Posted by: nan m | February 6, 2008 3:31 PM

Now there will be more jokers carrying on more and bigger carryons and using up the overhead space. The checkin agents and flight attendants need to do better policing of their rules.

Posted by: Ed C | February 6, 2008 5:00 PM

Seems strange to me that UAL would take such a step which, obviously, will encourage, if not, force more carry-on problems. Ask any Flight Attendant what the main problem is in boarding and/or exiting. Coupled with an ever increasing mob of inexperienced flyers with zero consideration for others...looks to me like a recipe for a major increase in air travel misery.

Posted by: Flyrod | February 6, 2008 5:58 PM

I was once a UAL stewardess and then worked for the company on the ground at their Maintenance Base in San Francisco. I have always had great loyalty for the company; until the last few years....this does it! I will do all possible to travel on another airline in the future. As pointed out in other comments, I am 5'2" and weigh about 125 pounds and travel alone. It is impossible for me to handle and haul one large bag onto check-in counters, off luggage belts, etc,. - It adds a great deal to the cost of that once-a-year vacation. One more bad taste added to my recent UAL travel experiences.

May I also mention the food served on their trips these past few years has steadly gone down hill...[I usually travel Mainland-Hawaii] The quality and price for something to eat, when you are stuck on the airplane for that long, has already forced me to start bringing my own food with me.

I would love to see United fall on their face, but I suppose if they get away with it, the other airlines will follow, and the public will pay the price, or stay home...unless you are lucky enough to have a travel expense from some company.

For now, I hopw there is a dramatic drop in travel with this airline.

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Posted by: debtsettlement | February 7, 2008 10:55 AM

Checking bags requires:
-extra fuel
-personnel to check, route, load, unload, liten to complaints and search for lost luggage

Checked luggage also creates a liability for loss or damage.

As a person who travels with one carry-on only, I'm glad to see my ticket price will no longer subsidize people who can't part with any of their wardrobe for a few days.

I'm also wondering if extra luggage is a good way to sort the problem travelers from the easy ones. If so, the real bonus for United would be to shift those hard to deal with people to their competitors.

Posted by: Brad | February 11, 2008 10:44 AM

I should also note. My wife and I have taken two month long vacations (and countless shorter ones) with three kids in tow, one through Europe and one through Mexico. In both cases, each of us packed only one carry-on bag. My youngest carried only a school daypack. My wife carried the only additional personal item in our group. It can be done; try it. Traveling without the extra burden is actually preferable.

Posted by: Brad | February 11, 2008 11:04 AM

Maybe they should weigh passengers and charge them extra per each 50 lbs. too. I weigh 114 pounds soaking wet; that fatso tipping the scales at 250+ gets one bag at 50 lbs so why can't I get two at 50 lbs. I'd still be less total weight for the plane and I don't hang over the seat next to me.

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