United sells a subscription

United Airlines would be considered a big player in the ancillary fee department of airlines in the United States.  They had really 4 classes of service, for instance, long before most when they adopted Economy Plus.  Most recently, they became national news for their decision to raise already high ticket change fees another $50.

If there are going to be fees, I hope more airlines also take United’s approach to offering some value in the process.  United is now offering subscription plans that would either allow a passengers to routinely check bags for a year without additional fees or another plan that would permit travel in Economy Plus for a year without additional fees.

United isn’t just offering one plan either.  Checked baggage subscription plans offering opportunities to carry one or two bags and also offer the opportunity through widened regions.  Their simplest plan (1 bag) in the domestic United States is just $349 and one of their most expensive, two bags checked globally, is $799.

There is value in those fees for the frequent traveler.

Economy Plus works similarly.  For a base fee, the traveler would be able to access Economy Plus on a space available basis for $499.  It’s $599 if we add in Hawaii and/or Alaska.  For global access, it is $699.

But remember that that is on a space available basis and space available comes after top tier elites in that area.  There may be value here or may not be.

What’s the catch?  Well, top tier frequent travelers already get access to these things and this is really aimed towards the frequent flier that is traveling just a few times a year.  It fits a niche.

If fees aren’t going away, programs like these are good values for those who travel more than very occasionally and other airlines would be smart to emulate them.

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2 Responses to “United sells a subscription”

  1. Spot on with the fees. if they’re there to stay then this kind of program will indeed be appreciated by travelers who fly often. Which airline do you think would follow this direction first?

  2. This kind of reminds me of the old 1979 Braniff Air Pass. Value for your money – one of the first successful concepts. For say 399 USD flat rate you could fly anywhere in the US for 30 days as many times as you would like. This was for International passengers traveling to the US. It was expanded later. Think of it as having your own private Braniff aircraft to fly around in – somewhat.

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