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United Airlines offers annual subscriptions for seat and baggage fees

@denschaal

Jun 03, 2013 1:04 pm

Skift Take

United is going to love its subscription plans for Economy Plus Seats and checked bags, especially since there will likely be more passengers who never follow through and use their allotments than there will be overuse.

— Dennis Schaal

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United Airlines

United's Economy Plus seats provide additional legroom in coach, and additional fees for the airline. United is for the first time offering an annual subscription plan for these seats, as well as for checked bags. United Airlines


Perhaps passengers will gripe less about airlines fees if they can get a subscription deal, and United Airlines thus debuted annual plans for its Economy Plus seats and checked bags.

The airline states “United is the only U.S. carrier to offer an annual subscription for its extra-legroom economy seating and checked baggage service charges.”

United hopes to bolster its ancillary revenue with such plans, and the airline can bank the lump-sum payments while there’s always a chance that subscribers won’t actually use all of the perks that they are entitled to.

Seats

Economy Plus seats provide extra legroom, and the purchase price varies. A Frommer’s article last year estimated that Economy Plus costs around $39 per leg on domestic flights and $100 per leg on international flights.

The Economy Plus annual subscription plan starts at $499 per year [expect a $50 one-time initiation fee in the future] for the continental U.S., and it costs $599 for North and Central America.

The price tag for a global Economy Plus subscription? $699. Here is an FAQ on the Economy Plus subscription.

It is important to note that United MileagePlus Premier Platinum members get access to Economy Plus seats for free for themselves and up to eight traveling companions.

Bags 

The annual baggage subscription, which doesn’t give passenger a waiver or oversized/overweight bags, provides for two checked bags per flight for the subscriber and up to eight travel companions, and the subscription fee starts at $399 for the continental U.S. The plan costs $499 for North America and Central America, and a whopping $799 for a global plan.

United is waiving a one-time $50 initiation fee during a promotional period.

There are several other options, including a plan for the subscriber and a companion for an additional $100. Details here.

United currently charges $25 for a first checked bag, $35 for the second, and $100 for the third.

Lounges

In addition, United has tweaked its annual United Club lounge membership plan to enable passengers to pay with miles, as an alternative to paying cash.

A United Club annual membership starts at $550, including a $50 initiation fee, or costs 72,000 miles. Subscribers can add a spouse for $250 or 32,500 miles.

Airlines have been scurrying to boost ancillary fee revenue. IATA forecasts that airlines globally will get 5% of overall revenue in 2013 from ancillary fees, and that’s up from just 0.5% in 2006.

United hopes its new subscription plans for Economy Plus seats and checked bags will bolster the airline’s ancillary revenue numbers.

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