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Airlines Raise Baggage Fees: What You Need to Know

by Aoife O’Riordan

Feb 28, 2024

© Flynt | Dreamstime.com

eFlyer Lead

JetBlue, United Airlines, Alaska Airlines and American Airlines are some of the airlines now charging passengers more to check bags at the airport than to purchase the service online in advance. In an effort to cover higher costs, more airlines increased baggage fees in 2024.

Beginning with tickets booked as early as March 1, economy-class passengers on domestic United Airlines flights will be charged $5 more, raising the price from $30 to $35, if passengers pay online at least 24 hours before the flight. If passengers pay online less than 24 hours in advance, the fee increases again to $40.

United Airlines passengers on domestic flights flying economy will also now be charged $45, an increase of $5, for a second checked bag if purchased in advance online and $40 if purchased at the airport. Meanwhile, passengers in premium cabins, customers with elite status in United MileagePlus and cardholders of United-branded credit cards are still able to check a bag for free.

The increase in checked baggage fees for United Airlines closely follows American Airline’s similar increase in fees. In mid-February, American Airlines raised its fees for a first checked bag for the first time in more than five years. Now, passengers on domestic flights must pay $35 for a checked bag if paid in advance or $40 if paid at the airport. The same increase also applies to a second checked bag.

JetBlue Airlines and Alaska Airlines both raised bag fees earlier this year. JetBlue passengers are charged $35 for a checked bag if booked in advance online or $45 at the airport.

There are three main reasons airlines raised these fees. For one, it increases revenue. According to an analysis by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, United Airlines raked in more than $1.1 billion in baggage fees in 2022. American Airlines accumulated a whopping $1.39 billion in baggage fees that same year. In total, U.S. airlines collected nearly $6.8 billion in baggage fees in 2022.

The increased fees also make up for higher costs, such as labor and fuel. But the other purpose of increasing baggage fees aims to reduce congestion at check-in desks at airports. The higher prices might deter passengers from waiting until they’re at the airport to purchase a checked bag.

Of course, not all airlines agree with such fees. Southwest Airlines continues to allow passengers to check two bags for free. 

What are your thoughts on the prices increases? Do you fear baggage fees may soon apply to business and first class? Tell us your thoughts. Email us at [email protected]. Please include your full name and location.

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