Skip navigation

U.S. Airlines Say “Me, Too!” to Higher Baggage Fees

If you or your attendees can’t travel with just a carry-on, brace yourself for higher costs for checking a bag with many major U.S. airlines.

On February 23, United Airlines announced an increase in baggage fees, following similar announcements from American Airlines on February 20, JetBlue on February 1, and Alaska Airlines on January 2.

Citing steeper fuel and labor costs and other inflationary pressures, the airlines are looking at raising more revenue through ancillary fees. U.S. airlines made $6.8 billion from bag fees in 2022, the last year that the Bureau of Transportation Statistics has full data to report. Those number are likely to go up with strong passenger demand and the new round of fee increases:

United: Passengers now pay $40 for the first checked bag, or $35 if they prepay online at least 24 hours before their flight. A second checked bag will cost $50 at the airport, or $45 in advance. Each of the options increased by $5 as of February 24.

American: Checking a bag on a domestic flight is now $35 if purchased in advance and $40 at the airport. Both fees were previously $30. A second checked bag has gone from $40 to $45.

JetBue: The airline raised its baggage fee by $10 for passengers who check in within 24 hours of departure, now charging $45 for a first checked bag, and $60 for the second. Fees if you check bags more than 24 hours in advance remain the same, $35 and $50 respectively.

Alaska: Baggage fees went up $5 for 2024 and are now $35 for the first bag and $45 for the second bag.

Of course, some travelers will continue to check bags for free. While it depends on the airline, frequent flyers at certain status levels, holders of certain credit cards, active members of the military, and travelers flying in upper-tier seats are typically still rewarded with free checked bags.

While most meeting planners don’t include attendees’ baggage fees in their budget, an incentive program might. Could it add up? Let’s say you’re planning an incentive program with 100 winners. If each brings a guest, and both check a bag, that extra $5 each way for both travelers would come to $2,000. That amount might be peanuts in the overall budget but is still an unbudgeted increase.

Even if you’re not picking up your attendees’ baggage fees, they may welcome some advice in the registration materials about how to minimize baggage costs if they can’t pack light enough for a carry-on:
• Pay for your checked bags at least 24 hours before your flight.
• Check to see if the credit card you’re paying with includes free checked bags as a benefit. (Here’s an article that runs down the various cards that offer that perk.)
• Align flight choices with your airline-loyalty program, which may include free checked baggage, depending on status level.
• Consider Southwest Airlines, which continues its free checked-luggage policy.


Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.