photo by kpishdadi
United Airlines recently announced that, "as part of its continuing effort to offer customers choice, flexibility, and low fares," it will start charging passengers who purchase nonrefundable economy tickets for US/Canada flights $25 to check a second bag (the first one is still free). Exempt from the fee are passengers who have Premier or higher status in Mileage Plus/Star Alliance will be able to go by the old rules of checking two bags for free.
This is certainly an interesting move by United - it's the first legacy carrier to introduce such a fee (discount airlines like Skybus have already made baggage fees an integral part of their business plans). Other legacies are no doubt paying careful attention to United's move here - if it works (i.e., passengers don't desert the airline), then it's probable that they'll follow suit and also charge more for bags. After all, by some estimates, United's move could make more than $100 million per year in extra revenue and cost savings - not an insignificant chunk of change.
So is United's move here good or bad? A bit of both, perhaps - a mixed bag (ha). They are running the very real risk of alienating some of its passengers, but this risk might diminish if the other legacies follow suit. And United might be able to convince some passengers that by not charging for bags that you're not going to check, they're passing the savings onto you...