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All Aboard: United Airlines Joins Others In Raising Bag Fees

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In the “monkey see, monkey do” airline industry, anytime one carrier changes an industry standard, it's only a matter of time before its competitors follow suit – and that's exactly what we're seeing right now with checked baggage fees.

Alaska Airlines was the first major U.S. carrier to raise bag fees across the board in five years. Earlier this week American Airlines got in on the action by setting a record-high price of $40 for a first checked bag – though you can save $5 by paying online in advance. JetBlue quietly raised fees at the beginning of the month, too. Now it's United's turn: For bookings made after Feb. 24, United will be charging $5 more for each checked bag on U.S. flights.

While the Chicago-based airline doesn't have an official checked baggage fee chart, you can quickly check how much a bag will cost using United's baggage fee calculator*. Here's a look at what you can expect to pay going forward on a domestic itinerary:

  • $35 for your first checked bag when paid in advance, or $40 at the airport
  • $45 for your second checked bag when paid in advance, or $45 at the airport

*We're not yet seeing the higher baggage fees reflected in the calculator but a United representative did confirm the price increase and we expect it to be updated shortly. 

Baggage fee calculator 

While an extra $5 per bag may not seem like much, luggage fees are big business. U.S. airlines collected nearly $7 billion (with a b) on bag fees alone in 2022 … and they were on track to shatter that record in 2023.


us baggage fees chart


United flyers can avoid paying higher bag fees altogether by holding a co-branded United credit card like the *united explorer* or the premium *united club infinite*. Both of these cards get a free checked bag on all United and United Express-operated flights.

Just be warned: Unlike its competitors American and Delta, United requires flyers to pay with their co-branded Chase credit card in order to get a free checked bag.

Having a United credit card is one of the best ways to beat the airline's pesky basic economy restrictions and now with these new (higher) bag fees, it'll take even fewer trips to cover the cost of holding the card. If you opt for the $95 per year United Explorer Card, you'd only need to take two roundtrips a year to cover the card's annual fee. Or just one trip if you and a companion each check a bag.

Read more about United Airlines baggage fees!

What about Delta? Despite being the one usually leading the charge anytime there's money to be made, Delta has so far resisted the urge to start charging travelers more for the privilege of checking a bag. While the airline declined to comment on whether they would be raising fees, too, it's surely only a matter of time. The only question is, how high will they go?


Bottom Line

United is the latest U.S. airline to hike its baggage fees across the board, raising prices by $5 to check one or more bags. After American Airlines raised its fees to check a bag to $40 earlier this week we wondered how long it would be before Delta and United followed suit. Now, we have our answer.

For bookings made Feb. 24 and onward, you can now expect to pay at least $35 for your first checked bag, and more if you wait to pay at the airport.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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