United Airlines is conducting an exciting short-term experiment: If you book their Door-to-Door Baggage Service before 5 p.m. this Friday, they’ll arrange to pick up and deliver up to 9 pieces of luggage for $25 each. The service can be booked up to 10 days in advance of a domestic trip, so even if you’re not flying for a few days, you can book it now. The $25/bag fee covers one-way travel (so $50 roundtrip) and is only available in locations served by FedEx.
To get an idea of just how great a value this is, consider that United currently charges $25 for your first checked bag and $35 for a second bag. (Think bypassing the airline and shipping directly through FedEx may be a deal? Think again. The company charges upwards of $230 to overnight one 50 lb. bag from New York to Los Angeles. Costs drop significantly with 2nd- or 3rd day delivery, but still don't merit savings enough to live out of a carry-on bag.)
Does this experiment foretell an industry change? Even though United ranked within the top ten best airlines for handling luggage, would you prefer that your bags were instead entrusted to a shipping company with a strong track record for on-time and accurate deliveries? The idea of bypassing the aggressive jostling at the baggage carousel is mighty attractive, isn’t it?
Ann Shields is senior online editor at TravelandLeisure.com.