Major airlines raised baggage fees and fuel surcharges last week as the industry, which has been hit hard by the recession-caused downturn in travel, attempts to improve the bottom line.
United Airlines joined the latest round of increases to baggage fees, following recent moves by Delta and Continental. United will now charge $25 to check the first bag and $35 for the second. That's $5 more than before. The increase took effect on tickets bought beginning Jan. 14 for travel after Jan. 21. The new fees are the same at Continental and Delta.
Airlines discount the fees by a few dollars for travelers who pay online in advance instead of at the airport.
An American Airlines spokesman says the airline has not changed its fees, but it is studying the changes made by the other airlines. Southwest Airlines does not charge to check the first two bags.
In addition, airlines also have raised fuel surcharges on travel to Europe by $20 per roundtrip, and some have added conditions that could cause travelers to pay higher fares.
Surcharges to Paris, Frankfurt and most cities on the Continent were raised to $280 per roundtrip and to $242 for London, airline representatives said last Tuesday.
Tim Smith, a spokesman for American Airlines, said his company matched increases by Continental and United. "That's purely a competitive factor," he said. Continental and United didn't immediately respond to requests for comment. Delta confirmed it, too, raised surcharges $20 a roundtrip.
Some airlines that previously required only a seven-day advance purchase for the lowest coach fares are now requiring a 14-day advance purchase, Parsons said.
Airlines have imposed surcharges for fuel and for passengers who travel on peak days around holidays.