Warning! Checked luggage fees are on the rise – again. Today, United became the latest major carrier to match Delta's, Northwest's, and Continental’s new increase in checked luggage fees on domestic flights (Delta was first to announce the hike last week). Effective immediately for new ticket purchases (for travel on/after Jan 21), United will charge economy passengers $25 for the first checked bag and $35 for a second – equaling Delta's, Northwest's, Continental's, and US Airway's charges (US Airways was the first to set the bar to the highest in the nation last August).
Not to be outdone (naturally), American Airlines has announced it, too, is considering matching the rates. So what’s the good news, if any, for flyers? The airlines, per usual, encourage passengers to check bags online before arriving at the airport to shave a pithy $2 to $5 “surcharge” (per bag) off the cost. If you bought your tickets before January 5 on Delta/Northwest, you’ll skirt the new increase (but still have to shell out the old fees). Also, if it’s any consolation, because air traffic is down across the board and passengers are heavily avoiding checking bags, those you pay so much mullah to stow below now have a lesser chance of getting lost en route. And, of course, there’s always Southwest Airlines – the lone stalwart still lets flyers check up to two bags absolutely free.