Is this because United is desperate to raise some up front cash during one of the worst financial storms in commercial aviation history? For $249 per year, you and seven traveling companions get to check your first and second bags free of charge. Let's do some math: at $15 (paid online) or $20 at the airport for the first bag, and $25 (online) or $30 (airport) for the second bag, someone checking two bags pays $80 round-trip for each flight. So take three 2-bag flights per year, and you've made money. A family for four, each checking one bag, taking three trips (4 x 3 x $30) would save $110. Clearly, if you have elite status in United's MileagePlus program (which you have to be a member of to get this deal), or if you fly business/first, or if you never check bags, then this is not for you.

But if you don't have status and you go to a lot of trade shows lugging your portable display and boxes of brochures, this is for you; if you have a large family that doesn't know how to pack light, it's a deal. Or if you simply travel more 8 times per year and  check just one bag, you'll save money. Or if you travel with two checked bags internationally 3 or more times per year, you'll save on United's $100 round-trip second bag fee for international flights.

Keep in mind that overweight and oversized bags will still incur fees.

United has also come up with other unique money-raising schemes, such "Premier Line" one-time access (with access to priority security lines, priority boarding and check in) and a year of Economy Plus extra legroom seating for $349.We're just wondering if they're launching this new baggage plan to be nice, or if they'd like fees to be prepaid now, when they could really use the cash flow.

All products and services mentioned on Airfarewatchdog are independently selected by our team of expert travelers. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

More Stories You'll Love