Checked bag charges are an airline industry cash cow: U.S. carriers pulled in an easy $800 million dollars in the first quarter of 2010 for a service that was free on most flights just two years ago. So, its not too surprising that UPS is trying to nudge its way into this market.
Sounds dreamy, except that UPS doesnt offer any special rates for these boxes, and even the cheapest delivery makes checking bags look like a bargain. According to the companys online calculator, sending a 55-pound large luggage box overnight from New York to Los Angeles runs a whopping $298.98. Ground service costs a more manageable $68.07, but thats still nearly triple the $25 most airlines charge for the first bag on domestic flights and youll have to ship at least four days ahead of time.
Of course, airlines hike rates significantly for second and third bags, so flyers moving across the country or traveling with big-ticket items like skis and golf clubs should investigate shipping options. Case in point: Flying with three 50-pound bags on American costs $160. UPS ground shipping charges $204.21 for three similarly sized luggage boxes, a difference that might be worth it in order to skip the snaking lines of grumpy flyers at check-in.
Still, there are plenty of other ways to skirt airline fees, so as much as wed like to stick it to the man and breeze through security hands-free, UPSs new spin on an old service doesnt make much sense at least cost-wise for everyday travels.