United Airlines Just Introduced a New $60 Baggage Fee (Oh, Joy)
Well, it had to happen.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
It happened this week.
Just a few days ago, in fact.
There was little fanfare.
Well, if you were United Airlines would you bother to get a trumpet band together to announce that you're going to be charging a new baggage fee?
Especially if that baggage fee is $60.
Please, though, don't fret.
United is merely leaping upon a bandwagon that's already been flying under different flags.
For this is the extension of the famed and ugly Sub-Cattle Class fares, aka Basic Economy, that have been spreading across the airline world.
Now, United is offering it to "select European countries."
Yes, you have to have favored nation status to enjoy the $60 baggage fee.
United's version will, unlike its domestic Basic Economy offering, at least allow you to book a specific seat and carry on not only one personal item, but one carry-on bag.
At heart, all United is doing is precisely what its president Scott Kirby insisted the airline is doing with its product -- "keeping up with the Joneses."
Indeed, Delta and American have already introduced these exciting new, pared-down miserable options on some of their flights to Europe.
I should point out the full excitement of the $60 baggage fee. It's a one-way fee. So it'll be $120 for a return trip. Yes, for just one bag.
However, should you be a MileagePlus Premier member, a Chase MileagePlus cardholder, a member of the military, a Star Alliance Gold member or you can sing "I love United" to the tune of Alice Cooper's I Love The Dead, you will get a free checked bag.
Actually, I did make that last one up.
Oh, and just as with the domestic Sub-Cattle Class, you can't upgrade your ticket.
It's worth, though, applauding United. Well, at least a little.
If you look at its international partners, both Lufthansa and Air Canada actually charge for seat assignments on their Sub-Cattle Class tickets.
I would like to remind you that these fares are all merely part of a game.
Airlines want to complicate the buying process so much -- and make the Basic Economy fares so distasteful -- that you'll be happy to pay more for something you paid less for before.
Soon, they'll also likely be able to hide the true cost of the fares and even keep them from being displayed on comparison sites.
How's that for basic? Basically anti-consumer, that is.
BY Thomas Koulopoulos