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United Joins American Airlines in Increasing Checked Bag Fees

Motley Fool - Mon Feb 26, 1:30PM CST

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Last week, American Airlines increased its checked bag fees. Now, flyers in most markets will have to pay more to check their bags. This news will likely upset those trying to stretch their vacation budgets further. Unfortunately, United Airlines is taking similar steps. As of Feb. 24, flyers will pay higher fees to check their bags. Here's what you need to know.

Most flyers will pay an additional $5 to check a bag

Last week, United Airlines announced it had increased checked bag fees. The airline noted on its website, "Starting February 24, 2024, fees for your first and second checked bag will go up by $5 in most markets." Before flying, travelers are encouraged to use United's baggage fee calculator to verify the checked bag fees for their route.

For domestic routes, flyers without elite status will pay $40 each way to check their first bag. But they can get a $5 discount and pay only $35 by paying this fee in advance online. A second checked bag costs $50, or $45, when prepaid online.

Previously, non-elite United fliers with economy tickets paid $35 for their first checked bag or $30 when paying in advance. While $10 round-trip is only a slight fee increase, every extra dollar adds up. Flyers who prefer to pack more when traveling will want to budget for this additional cost before they board their next United flight.

Here's how to avoid checked bag fees when flying

It's understandable if you find this news disappointing. But if you're strategic, you can avoid checked bag fees. Here are a few tips that could help you save money.

  • Learn to pack light: Bringing only a carry-on bag could be a win for your bank account. If you're flying with United, choose a ticket that includes a free carry-on bag to avoid additional checked bag fees. Domestic basic economy tickets don't include a free carry-on bag.
  • Choose a different airline: If you're visiting a destination that Southwest Airlines flies to, you should price out airfare costs and consider this carrier. Regardless of ticket type, all Southwest flyers can check two bags at no additional cost.
  • Consider getting a United credit card: If you're a United loyalist and have been considering getting a new credit card, check your options for United credit cards. You can benefit from free checked bag perks with the right credit card in your wallet.
  • Achieve elite status: It may be worthwhile to pursue elite status with your favorite airline. Many airlines, including United, offer free checked bag benefits to elite flyers. This benefit could help you spend less money on travel costs.
  • Buy a premium ticket: Most airlines offer free checked bag benefits to flyers with premium tickets. When flying on a business or first class ticket with United, you can avoid paying additional checked bag fees. It may be worthwhile to upgrade your ticket.

Before booking airfare for your next vacation, consider additional costs like checked bag fees. This way, you can prepare financially to enjoy your trip without added stress. Being strategic and finding ways to avoid extra bag fees could be a win for your personal finances. Check out our list of the best airline credit cards to learn more about the benefits provided.

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