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United Airlines planes land at their Newark Liberty Airport base in New Jersey, USA. (Photo: Business Insider)

United increases bag fee to US$35, joining JetBlue in revenue hunt

United Airlines planes land at their Newark Liberty Airport base in New Jersey, USA. (Photo: Business Insider)

The US$35 bag fee is gaining traction as US airlines contend with the financial fallout of the grounding of the 737 Max jet and a viral pandemic that has decimated travel to China.

United has increased the price of its first checked bag by US$5 to US$35.

United Continental Holdings Inc. will increase the charge for passengers’ first and second checked bags by US$5, to US$35 and US$45, respectively. The fee changes apply to United tickets purchased as of Friday for domestic and short-haul international travel to Latin American and the Caribbean starting March 6.

The higher bag fees match the increase that JetBlue Airways Corp. imposed last month. United’s customers can avoid the $5 increase if they check no more than two bags and pay online at least 24 hours before departure. The airline doesn’t charge baggage fees to travellers with certain United-branded JPMorgan Chase & Co. credit cards and to those who have elite status in the carrier’s loyalty program.

JetBlue previously increased it baggage price in January.

Neither United nor JetBlue offered a reason for the higher fees. United is facing the impact of suspending its 12 daily flights to China due to steep traffic declines from the coronavirus outbreak.

The Chicago-based carrier is also trying to manage around the loss of its grounded 737 Max planes. The Boeing Co. jet is approaching the one-year anniversary of its worldwide grounding on March 13, following two deadly crashes.