Big discussion about over at FlyerTalk, where there are a few Bears, some of us under the same names, some incognito.
Yeah, it blows. However jet fuel is $107/barrel as of today (stat from NBC Today show 20 minutes ago.) Would you rather they raise the fare on everybody, or just charge those carrying extra stuff a relatively small amount for the extra?
Most people should be able to get by with a carry-on (with boots), 1 ski bag, and maybe one other bag. This means that at most you're paying for 1 bag at $25. United still considers a ski bag (in fact a ski bag+boot bag if dumb enough to check boots) as "one bag". Check the skis as the "one bag" so you don't get hit with an oversize fee for calling the skis the "additional bag", then pay the $25 for the 2nd bag.
From my post over there
Originally Posted by MarkXS
Rule#1 of ski travel: Always carry on your boots (especially if you've had custom bootwork or footbeds done, which all real skiers should do).
Rule#2: see rule#1
Rule#3: Wrap most of your ski underwear, mid & outer layers around the skis in the ski bag. Stuff your ski socks (other than the ones you stuffed in your carryon boot bag) at the tips and tails. Checked bag #1.
Rule#4: Take one more bag. A rolling duffel works fine for the rest of your ski and non-ski clothing and meets the regular 50lb/23kg allowance.
Rule#5: If you need to also take a camera, computer, etc. your small laptop-type bag is your personal item. Between what you can put in there and what you put in your carry-on boot-bag (including first day's ski clothing - pants, fleece etc.) you have all you need.
Rule#6: Delayed ski bag becomes your opportunity to demo skis you'd like to try, at the airline's expense.
At most, a non-elite ski traveler pays for just 1 bag. Anybody 3P or OAL *S or above pays nothing for their luggage.
decoding my last sentence in that quote: "OAL *S" (Flyertalk-speak) means a low-level elite on any of the 19 Star Alliance airlines - Star Alliance Silver status. "3P" is code for United's "Premier Associate" status which you don't earn, it's given to you by another member who flys at least 35,000 miles/year and likes you. (Sorry, I already gave my one status gift to my daughter. But I'll accept bids for next year
How to get that: fly 25,000 miles/year on United and their partners (Air Canada, US Air, BMI, Lufthansa, Swiss, Air New Zealand, Austrian and a bunch more) crediting all the miles to just ONE of those programs (in other words DO NOT credit your UA flights to UA while crediting your Air Canada flights to Air Canada - put all the flights on your UA FF#) and you'll still get 2 free bags at 23kg/50 lb each. Fly 50,000/year and you'll get three free bags at 32kg/70lb each from reaching Star Alliance Gold status. (or Star Gold for only 35,000 miles if you credit all your flights to Air Canada's program.)
Lufthansa has been charging for ski bags and other sports equipment, even if that's your only bag, for over a year. So have several other European airlines. Many European airlines carefully weigh carry-ons, and on most flights except for travel to/from North America, the rule has been something like only 20kg checked TOTAL for coach passengers and a measly 8kg for carry-on.
Also - United isn't changing their policy for international baggage allowance. If you're flying to the US from Europe or the other way around, you're still getting the 2 bags/23kg/50lb, or the 3 bags if Star Gold.
I wouldn't expect this charge to go away. Before you decide "I'll never fly United again", better wait to see if the others will follow. Considering the financial state of the airline industry, I'd expect American, US, Delta, Northwest to follow quickly. Continental, maybe not. Remember when a few years ago, we were all outraged about having to pay $5 for a junk food snack box instead of getting that "yummy" airline food for free? Now they all sell snack boxes and have no meals in domestic coach (except Continental).
How much do you guys take anyway?
We're also talking about the perspective of people who are in a sport with $86/day lift tickets (yes, most of us have some discount angle but it's still not cheap), and afford multiple ski quivers. Not sure why all of $25 for an extra bag is such a big deal.