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.