United Airlines has made it clear that it doesn’t have much room for me on its planes. Now it doesn’t have much room for my luggage, either.
After reading about the airline’s new $25 fee for checking a second bag on domestic flights, I kind of have to figure that United Airlines figures it’s worth the money to further alienate a certain segment of the flying public – the segment I’m in.
Look, I’m no business genius or airline industry analyst. I don’t know if this fee is going to help United or not. But I know that as an economy class, leisure traveler I’m starting to feel less welcome on United and more inclined to book on other airlines.
I’ve mentioned before my distaste for United’s Economy Plus seating, which results in a consistent 31-inch seat pitch at the back of the plane — unless you pay extra to sit in the front. At 5 foot 9, I’m tall for an American woman but the exact average height of an American man and I can tell you – that’s not enough room for anyone my size or bigger.
And now, unless an economy class passenger has elite status in United’s frequent flier program, the airline will charge $25 to check a second bag on a domestic flight. So far, the fee does not apply to international flights.
It’s not a surprising development. Some no-frills airlines have fees for all checked luggage. Spirit Airline recently raised its charges to $10 a bag if you reserve space in advance or $20 at the gate. Skybus charges $5 per bag per flight segment.
There’s already speculation that if United gets away with this, other large airlines will follow suit.
This isn’t a fee that would likely apply to me – I usually travel pretty light. But it can be tough on students returning to school, people who need a lot of medical equipment and others in similar situations.
United’s hope here, clearly, is for some extra revenue. Another result might be that passengers will travel lighter. But I think it most likely that passengers will try even harder to cram all the stuff they can into a carry-on and/or a single checked bag, which would mean even more overstuffed cabins and more back injuries for baggage handlers.
We shall see.