United to start charging for luggage

February 4, 2008 11:34:25 PM PST
In about three months, United Airlines is going to start charging $25 dollars to check a second piece of baggage.

United says the extra money will pay for rising fuel prices.

"I'm not paying it ever again. I wont pay it, no," said Ben Tivy.

What Ben Tivy won't pay is a $25 dollar charge for any more than one piece of check-in luggage.

United is the first major airline to fly this new charge past passengers; $25 dollars for a second piece of luggage, and $100 dollars for every bag after that. The charge begins May 5th.

Grant Wells is flying with his four children and wife.

"When you carry baggage and you got kids you got a lot of gear you got to take with you its easy to fill a bag," said Wells.

United Airlines has seen its stock prices dive in the past few weeks and its operating costs soar. Aviation experts say this is really an attempt to try and shore up their losses.

United says the move was necessary because their fuel prices have gone up 50-percent in the past 12 months. They say they are going to be able to make $100 million dollars from this change.

The airline says that $100 million will be in fuel savings and revenue from the surcharge. The new fee will only apply to passengers flying domestically and to Canada and the Caribbean.

Passengers who are Frequent Flyer Premier or Silver Star Alliance members will be exempt -- that means casual air travelers will pay.

"They're hitting the little guy who really can't afford it. The one that has a vacation once a year with his family is going to be hit with the surcharge," said ABC7 Aviation Consultant Ron Wilson.

Wilson says passengers are already paying fuel surcharges and more taxes every time they fly. That, along with a reduction in in-flight services may make passengers seek a rival carrier.

This surcharge is the first of its kind by any major airline, but Ron Wilson says other airlines are watching this move carefully.

"The airlines play "follow the leader" and if one airline does it and it is successful, then the other airlines will follow suit," said Wilson.