Airline news: United to charge fee for 2nd bag

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United Airlines has announced that, rather than raise fares to cover the rising cost of jet fuel, it is going to charge passengers on domestic flights $25 for a second piece of checked luggage, starting May 5. (If you have status in a Mileage Plus or Star Alliance frequent flier program, you do not have to pay this fee.) Your first bag will continue to be carried free.

The move will probably be imitated by Delta Air Lines, Northwest Airlines, and Continental Airlines. Some smaller airlines are already adding baggage check fees. Spirit Airlines, for example, charges $10 each for the first two bags.

United will also charge a flat $100 rate for checking in additional bags, regardless of whether you belong to its frequent flier program. Presently, the airline charges roughly $85 to $125 a bag for additional bags.

United says only one in four of its domestic passengers check in more than one bag.

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