United limits free baggage | SteamboatToday.com

United limits free baggage

New fees for checking second bag start May 5

Melinda Dudley

David Carr, of Baton Rouge, La., reaches for a bag at the Yampa Valley Regional Airport on Dec. 28, 2006. Starting May 5, United Airlines will begin charging an additional fee for extra checked baggage.

— Many United Airlines passengers flying at Yampa Valley Regional Airport will soon be subject to additional checked baggage fees, due to a policy change from the airline.

Starting with flights departing May 5, for nonrefundable economy-class tickets purchased after Feb. 4, customers may only check one free bag on domestic flights in the United States.

The second bag will be subject to a $25 service fee, and fliers may check up to four additional bags at $100 each. Prior rates for the third through sixth piece of luggage per passenger ranged from $85 to $125.

The change in baggage policy will net more than $100 million annually for United in cost savings and new revenue, according to a United Airlines news release.

International passengers will still be permitted to check two pieces of luggage for free, except on flights between the United States and Canada, which are subject to the new limits. High-ranking members of United’s frequent flier programs may also be exempt.

Only about one in four passengers checks a second bag, according to the news release.

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But the average ski season passenger at YVRA flies with at least two pieces of checked baggage, Airport Manager Dave Ruppel said.

YVRA accommodates between 2,500 and 3,000 passengers each day during ski season, and United Airlines flights have the capacity to bring in as many as 700 people, Ruppel said.

As much as half of YVRA’s winter passenger traffic already travels with an additional piece of excess and possibly oversize baggage, to bring their skis or snowboard to Steamboat Springs, he said.

“People are frustrated, because they feel like they’re paying more for something they’re already paying a lot for,” Ruppel said.

Ruppel expects that United’s new baggage police will be negatively received by airline passenegers, as was charging passengers to use curbside check-in, a recent change made by Northwest Airlines.

YVRA’s four other carriers – Continental, Northwest, American and Delta airlines – all allow two free bags for coach passengers on domestic flights.