United Airlines Fees Review


Photo credit: IanC66/shutterstock

United Airlines' fees for extra services on domestic flights are relatively hefty compared with some smaller carriers' fees but on par with the other transcontinental legacy airlines'. Like Delta, American, and US Airways, United hasn't begun nickel-and-diming passengers with fees for nonalcoholic beverages or carry-on bags, but the fees it does charge are among the highest in the industry. It led the way when the four raised their domestic change fees to $200 and recently also increased prices for changing an award ticket. Changes that used to be free or cost up to $150 now range from $75 to $200.

United has brought back a unique offering that lets passengers avoid repeatedly paying the $25 checked-bag fee: a subscription service. For $349 a year, travelers get a checked bag with every flight in the continental United States; an extra $50 ups the allowance to two free checked bags. At the base price, consumers would have to take more than seven round-trip flights with a checked bag to come out ahead. If you're a frequent flyer, you may already get a free checked bag or three as a premier member of United's MileagePlus program. Other passengers looking for a cheaper method can get a free checked bag when booking flights using Chase's United MileagePlus Explorer credit card with a $95 annual fee (waived the first year).

United also offers a subscription for Economy Plus seating, which features extra legroom and ranges from $9 to hundreds a la carte. The subscription service starts at $499 a year and doesn't guarantee that one of the premium coach seats will be available on every flight. All subscriptions will also carry a one-time initiation fee of $50, although that fee is currently waived.

Compare United's fees with other airlines' extra charges using the charts on pages 2 to 4 of our guide and visit the company's website for more details.

Louis DeNicola

Louis DeNicola is a freelance personal finance writer who specializes in credit, debt, and practical money-saving tips. He loves stacking savings opportunities to get amazing deals, traveling for free using credit card rewards, and teaching others how to do the same. Connect with Louis by visiting louisdenicola.com.

See full bio