United takes airline fees to a new altitude
The latest twist involves a variety of annual subscriptions that cover baggage check-in and extra legroom.
United Airlines (UAL) has devised perhaps two of the most meta-level fees ever concocted: subscription plans that allow consumers to sidestep those irksome checked-baggage fees and to get more legroom.
The rates aren't low. For a year of extra legroom, United is charging $499. To avoid checked-baggage fees for a year, you'll have to shell out $349.
That means the annual basic rate to gain what travelers took for granted just a few years ago -- seats where your dining tray doesn't press against your knees and baggage check-in that's covered by the cost of your ticket -- will now set you back almost $850.
United becomes the first carrier to offer subscriptions that guarantee these "benefits," CNBC reports. It's also a sign that the airlines continue to innovate in at least one area: how to wrangle more money from travelers.
It's noteworthy that the $349 baggage subscription is the airline's lowest rate, covering only one free checked-in bag in the U.S. and Canada. Want to get coverage for two bags checked anywhere in the world? That will set you back $799.
So does it make sense to buy the subscriptions? Only if you make eight round-trip flights a year in the U.S. and always check a bag, according to FareCompare. (The man who is credited with devising the checked-luggage fee, by the way, flies his own plane or uses a carry-on, bypassing his own brainchild.)
Unless you're a die-hard United customer who always checks a bag, the subscription probably doesn't make sense.
For the airlines, though, fees provide billions of reasons to continue. Last year, the industry raked in a record $6 billion in airline fees, with United alone collecting $706 million in bag fees, FareCompare notes.
Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi.
United is the suckiest airline by far anyway.
This is just like anything else in America these days, people need to finally get fed up and get their heads out of the sand on many issues and complain, I agree!
Why Is no one complaining that they just raised the fee to change your ticket to $200?
Face it. Flying has devolved into traveling that is no different than sitting in a Greyhound bus. It's faster, but it's just as nasty. Airline seats are nasty. The air is nasty. Gawd help you if you eat the food. It's transportation. After I get out of the sardine can, all I want is a shower.
Sorry but the airlines don't own all the blame - When you search for an airline ticket do you look for the best airline or the lowest price ??? Most people just search their chosen online travel site for the lowest price and then complain when they have to pay extra for other services - well duh, why do you think the price you found is the lowest - because they strip the free services to lower the ticket cost and then charge extra for the services.
Pay me now or pay me later - nothing is free
They should send their staff to marketing 101 to see how all these juvenile fees effect the moral of their staff (because the staff are the ones that have to deal with the complaints), and more important, to realize how the airlines are now one of the most hated industries in the world with their customers. I'm waiting for them to develop the Star trek "Beam me up Scotty" so that airlines become obsolete, with the added advantage of improving the ozone drastically through less emissions from the planes and doing away with the airlines current corporate sleaziness which would also make the air cleaner as there would be a lot less stink coming from the mouths of American airline management.
I wonder if the Airlines are flying their routes with less fuel to save money?? Someone should check into that!
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