Home Airlines United, Following Delta & American, Quietly Drops A Bag Fee

United, Following Delta & American, Quietly Drops A Bag Fee

by SharonKurheg

Airlines love to charge fees for just about everything. Want more legroom? There’s a fee for that. Check a bag? Pay a fee. Want to choose your seat? Depending on your ticket, you may need to pay a fee for that, too.

But every once in a while, a fee just disappears.

In mid-2019, American Airlines dropped its oversize baggage fee for common sporting goods and music equipment. Delta followed suit a couple of months later, at least for sports equipment. For those who wanted to travel with their surfboards, golf clubs or bicycles, they would no longer have to pay the $150 “oversize baggage” fee when they checked such equipment.

Of the legacy carriers, United was the one holdout. But now they’ve joined the fray, as well.

Changes in the “sports equipment” page of United’s website show that they’ve now eliminated the “oversize baggage” fee for many pieces of sports equipment.

As an example, the new rules for checking a bicycle are:

We can transport bicycles as checked baggage if they are packed appropriately. To pack your bicycle as checked baggage:

  • Pack it in a sealed box using plastic foam or similar protective material inside. The box should be a hard-sided case or constructed from durable cardboard.
  • Secure the handlebars sideways and remove the pedals before packing the bicycle. All loose items should be inside the box.
  • Motorized or battery-powered bicycles are not permitted.
  • We’re not liable for damage to any checked bicycles that are not packed as described above.

Oversized bag fees do not apply to checked bicycles. Standard checked baggage fees as well as overweight service charges still apply.

Of course, sports enthusiasts aren’t getting away with checking their bags for no fees – perish the thought! 😉 They still count as luggage and if someone checks, for example, one suitcase and their bike, they’ll still be charged for checking two pieces of baggage. They just won’t have to pay $150 or $200 for the box with the bike, because it won’t be considered oversized baggage anymore.

Overweight limits will still apply to all checked sporting goods.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


Mike October 7, 2021 - 9:35 am

I just paid $181 dollars to bring my bike in to Fl.
I travel on United airlines. I left on Oct 1st .
Im I entitled for a refund & if so how do I go about it to get one . Thanks Mike

SharonKurheg October 7, 2021 - 11:09 am

Hi Mike. I recommend you call United’s customer service number with that question. That being said, I suspect that, whenever they changed the rule is the effective date for no longer charging for specific sports equipment. So if they changed it, for example, on Oct. 1st, it would be in effect for anyone who makes a reservation on Oct. 1st forward, not necessarily those who made a reservation before Oct. 1st and happened to be flying after that date. But if you call their customer service number and ask if you’re eligible for a refund, I’m sure they will be able to let you know either way. Good luck!

Evelyn Fouse October 7, 2021 - 3:33 pm

The new traveling public wanted everything, A LaCart so here it is, anything you buy as a pkg deal it is usually less expensive. With the airline (old days) your dollar went further, one bag, snacks or a meal. No third party vendors, solutions resolved with face to face person on the spot. It’s a trade off

George Fru October 7, 2021 - 11:52 pm

For as long as I remember, United did allow me to check skis AND boots, in 2 pieces, as ONE luggage item. No extra charges, but skis are returned to you from the “over-sized ” area.

BRETT October 8, 2021 - 9:57 am

I just checked their website and they still charge for surfboards. Please check your article for accuracy.

SharonKurheg October 8, 2021 - 10:04 am

Thank-you Brett. I did check and it’s correct. We said that United stopped charging the fee for most sporting equipment. We didn’t say it was for all of them. Thank you though.

Eslanda Goode Ramos October 8, 2021 - 12:35 pm

The article is accurate, Brett. Your reading and understanding are not so. They sure charge for the extra piece of luggage ( surfboard or any sports/music equipment), and so for the exceeding weight. They have dropped only the OVERSIZED CHARGE.


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