Why airlines are raising baggage fees and charging more at the airport

Travelers arrive for flights at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago on March 16, 2021.

Scott Olson | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Airlines are raising their prices to check a bag — again. Just how much you it will cost you, however, depends on when you pay for the service.

United Airlines, American Airlines and JetBlue Airways are among the carriers that have raised the price to check bags this year. Each of them charge customers more if they check their bags at the airport or close to their departure compared with paying to check a bag online in advance.

Carriers are encouraging customers to pay to check their bags ahead of their flight, an approach the airlines argue will free up employees at check-in areas and get travelers to their gates faster.

Earlier this week, American Airlines raised its checked bag fees for the first time in more than five years and adopted the two-tiered strategy that United, JetBlue and several budget airlines already have.

American Airlines customers traveling in coach will pay $35 to check a first bag for domestic flights if the service is booked online in advance, or $40 if they purchase the option at the airport, the carrier said Tuesday. American Airlines previously charged $30 for either service.

There are exemptions. Customers who have certain airline or other rewards credit cards, are traveling in a top-tier class or have elite frequent flyer status generally can check at least one bag for free on domestic or short international flights.

Why does it cost less to check a bag in advance?

How Delta moves 100,000 bags daily at the world's busiest airport

United first started charging customers more for paying for checked bags at the airport in 2020. On Friday, the carrier said it was raising bag fees by $5 for most flights in North America to $35 if customers prepay online at least 24 hours before their flight, or $40 otherwise, starting with bookings made on Feb. 24. A second checked bag will cost $50, or $45 at least 24 hours in advance.

Why are airlines raising baggage fees?

Luggage fees are a big moneymaker for airlines. In the first nine months of 2023, U.S. airlines brought in more than $5.4 billion from baggage fees, up more than 25% from the same period of 2019, according to the…

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Why airlines are raising baggage fees and charging more at the airport

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