United introduces baggage fee waiver pass


United Airlines has launched a program that waives checked baggage charges in exchange for an annual subscription fee.

The introductory price for Premier Baggage is $249 a year and allows a customer to check two standard bags without paying extra. The subscription fee also covers baggage charges for up to eight people traveling on the same confirmation number.

“Premier Baggage pays for itself after just a few trips for an individual and possibly after a single trip for a family,” the Chicago-based carrier said Monday in a statement.

Airline fees have proliferated as carriers struggle for revenue amid sharply reduced global business travel and lower fares. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, baggage fees brought in more than $670 million for U.S. airlines in the second quarter, a 276 percent increase from a year earlier.

United said Premier Baggage does not cover the cost of oversized or overweight luggage, nor does it cover fees for checked bags beyond two bags.

On U.S. and Canadian flights, United charges $15 for the first checked bag and $25 for the second if customers check in online. At the airport, the fees rise to $20 for the first checked bag and $30 for the second.