Flying Overseas? Your Suitcase May Need Its Own $100 Ticket

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Planning a long trip to Europe this summer? Then prepare to pack light — or pay up. United Airlines has hiked its fee for a second checked bag on international flights to triple-digits.

The fees associated with air travel today seem to be on an endless flight upward. In January, Delta Air Lines announced that it was raising its fee for checking a second bag on international flights from $75 to $100. So it only seems natural that its main competitor has now matched it.

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United is now charging $100 – from the previous $70 – for a second checked bag. (The first bag is free.) And that’s after it raised that same fee from $50 last year. The airline is justifying the fee hike due to “an increase in costs associated with carrying bags, such as fuel and handling,” according to a statement.

Considering the economic turmoil in Europe, you might think that the airline would consider putting fewer financial obstacles in the way of Americans taking a trans-Atlantic flight to the Old World. Nope. Not even declining jet fuel prices halted the move.

In fact, with a slight improvement in the U.S. economy as a whole, United may be counting on the fact that more families are going to travel overseas this summer, and it’s a well-timed move. Most annual air travel takes place in July and August. The fee hike affects all U.S. routes to Europe, the Middle East, Africa and India. According to airline analyst Hunter Keay, United will see a “modest” revenue increase of $30 million.

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Now that United has followed Delta in hiking the fee, should we expect the rest of the airlines to follow?

“Unfortunately, airlines tend to follow a lead even when it may not be on their own list for change,” says Randy Petersen, founder of milepoint.com. “Bottom line, this ‘fee for all’ will most likely affect all other airlines.” That means: yes, expect more triple-digit fees from United’s competitors.

In a report, airline analyst Keay similarly predicts that other airlines will hike baggage fees “in the near future.” American Airlines currently charges $60 for the second checked international bag and US Airways charges $70.

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