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United Joins JetBlue, American Airlines by Raising Checked Bag Fees

The cost of a first and second checked bag has risen by $5 each for economy passengers on domestic flights

by Fergus Cole

February 27, 2024

Photo: Courtesy of United

Less than a month after JetBlue quietly raised its checked bag fees and just days after American Airlines raised baggage fees by up to 33%, United Airlines has followed suit by updating its checked baggage policies.

As of February 24, economy class passengers booking flights within the U.S. with United will be charged an extra $5 for checking in their luggage. If checking in online at least 24 hours before departure, passengers will be charged $35 for their first checked bag and $45 for their second, compared to the previous fees of $30 and $40, respectively.

Photo: Courtesy of United

Passengers checking in within 24 hours before their flight will be charged $40 for their first bag and $50 for their second.

United confirmed that premium class passengers, active military personnel, United Chase credit card holders, and eligible frequent flyers can still check in their luggage free of charge.

“For the first time in four years, United is raising checked bag fees for customers traveling in North America,” said the airline in a statement. “United Chase credit card holders, MileagePlus Premier members, active military members, and customers traveling in premium cabins can still check a bag for free, and customers in most markets will still enjoy a $5 discount if they prepay for their bags online at least 24 hours before their flight.”

United’s announcement did not come as a surprise, as three other major U.S. carriers have implemented similar price hikes in 2024 alone. Alaska Airlines was the first airline to kick off the trend, raising the cost of first and second checked bags by $5 each for economy passengers booking flights from January 2 onwards. This then created a domino effect, with other airlines quickly following suit.

Photo: Courtesy of Denver International Airport.

On February 1, JetBlue increased the cost of first and second checked bags by $10 each on domestic flights and flights to the Caribbean and Latin America. Then, on February 20, American Airlines initiated a similar price hike, raising the cost of a first checked bag from $30 to $40 on flights within the U.S. and to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Baggage fee rises were also applied on American Airlines flights to Canada, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.

JetBlue blamed many rising operational costs for its baggage fee increases and the fact that it hasn’t made a profit since the pandemic. It also claimed that raising baggage fees ensured it could keep in-flight entertainment and connectivity free of charge.

Photo: Courtesy JetBlue

“The cost of doing business has gone up significantly due to increased wages, higher fuel costs, and other inflationary pressure, and we remain unprofitable since COVID,” said JetBlue. “While we don’t like increasing fees, it’s one step we are taking to return our company back to profitability and cover the increased costs of transporting bags.

“JetBlue continues to believe customers shouldn’t have to choose between a low fare and a great experience. By adjusting fees for added services that only certain customers use, we can keep base fares low and ensure customer favorites like seatback TVs and high-speed Wi-Fi remain free for everyone.”

While checked baggage fees were once upon a time relatively unheard of in the airline industry, it’s now very much the norm, at least within the United States. Just one major U.S. carrier, Southwest Airlines, continues to allow all passengers to check in their bags free of charge.