Anger Mounts Against United Airlines Over Extra Fee to Use Overhead Bins

Cost is expected to most strongly impact parents, elderly

United Airlines
United Airlines / Wikimedia Commons
December 7, 2016

United Airlines is drawing ire from customers over its recent decision to impose an extra fee on passengers who purchase its lowest-tier ticket to use the plane’s overhead bins.

The Chicago-based airline announced last month it was introducing a "basic economy" fare in 2017 that would restrict customers to one small carry-on item that must be placed under the seat, rather than in the overhead cabins. The ticket will also automatically assign passengers a seat on the day of departure, which could separate flyers on the same reservation

United Airlines, one of the world’s largest carriers, is the first major U.S. airline to charge passengers to store carry-ons. The company is hoping the move will push frequent flyers toward purchasing a more expensive economy ticket, Reuters reported.

While United has said the change doesn’t amount to a new fee, the airline predicted the changes will raise some $1 billion for the company over the next three years, indicating the cost will fall to consumers.

Parents traveling with children and elderly passengers who need wheeled luggage will likely be most hard hit by the new fare.

Incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called the move "one of the most restrictive policies on airline passengers we have seen in a long time."

"The overhead bin is one of the last sacred conveniences of air travel and the fact that United Airlines – and potentially others – plan to take that convenience away unless you pay up is really troubling," the New York senator said in a statement on Monday. "It seems like each year, airlines devise a new, ill-conceived plan to hit consumers and it has simply got to stop."

Published under: Chuck Schumer