Travel Perks?

United Airlines touts yearly subscriptions for "free" checked bags and extra legroom

United Airlines touts yearly subscriptions for "free" checked bags

In an effort to make air travel more commodious for its frequent flyers, United Airlines recently introduced three new subscription services that can be tailored to each traveler's style.

Those who prefer to check baggage rather than carry on can pre-pay a yearly checked baggage subscription and avoid shelling out $25 to $100 per flight for service charges. For an annual $399, a single passenger can check up to two standard bags for "free" during any trip within the continental United States.

An annual subscription fee of $999 allows the subscribing passenger and up to eight travel companions to check up to two bags per flight for "free" on flights anywhere around the globe. 

Perhaps more enticing for light travelers — or anyone taller than, I don't know, 5-foot-nothing — is the annual Economy Plus subscription. For a price starting at $499, frequent travelers can get legroom upgrades — up to five extra inches! — for a full year on most of the airline's aircraft. 

That upgrade can cost as little as $11 per seat or as much as $200 for an overseas round-trip on a per-flight basis, so the subscription seems like it could be worthwhile for frequent travelers. The subscription can be adjusted for travel area and the amount of companions per plan, for an annual cost reaching up to $1,099. 

The Chicago-based air carrier is also making the United Club more accessible for passengers who prefer paying for the annual membership with frequent flyer miles. Where an annual pass starts at $500 for unlimited access to more than 45 United Club locations, MileagePlus subscribers can cash in 72,000 miles for a membership (or add a spouse for an extra $250 or 32,500 miles).