United Airlines said on Thursday it will charge a US$15 service fee to check one bag for domestic travel on an economy ticket to help offset record fuel prices.
The new fee will also be charged on economy travel to Canada, the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, the US airline said.
In addition, the Chicago-based carrier — the second-largest US airline — said it will hike the fee to check three or more bags, overweight bags or items that require special handling to US$125 from US$100, or to US$250 from US$200, depending on the item.
The new fees, effective for flights from Aug. 18, apply to customers who purchased their ticket yesterday or later.
The airline previously announced a fee of US$25 for checking a second bag.
United estimates the potential revenue from baggage handling service fees, including those for checking a first and second bag, will be about US$275 million a year.
It announced exceptions to the new first-bag checking fee for some passengers such as first or business class.
Like other US airlines reeling from jet fuel prices that have nearly doubled in the past year and a soft US economy, United announced in early June it was further cutting its fleet, operations and up to 1,100 additional jobs. It also closed its budget carrier Ted.
Meanwhile, Australian airline Virgin Blue Holdings Ltd said yesterday it would raise fares and cut costs and capacity to offset higher fuel prices.
Faced with fuel bills expected to be up 21 percent to more than A$500 million (US$470 million) in the year to June 30, the group said it plans to cut costs by A$50 million in the 2009 financial year.
It will also increase ticket prices by an average of US$4.70 across 55 percent of its routes in Australia, and freeze management salaries.
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