United Airlines Now Selling "Subscriptions" for Better Seats, Free Baggage

United Continental (NYSE: UAL  ) has a new program of all-you-can-eat fringe benefits for its customers.

The parent company of United Airlines announced Monday that it is now offering flyers the option of "subscribing" for benefits formerly ordered a la carte. For example:

  • For $499 per year, flyers can join the "Economy Plus" program offering "additional legroom to stretch out and relax" on "most" of the airline's nearly own aircraft, and also on nearly 180 United Express aircraft.
  • For $349 per year (and up), flyers can subscribe for free checked baggage on their flights. Multiple conditions apply -- in particular, subscriptions cost more when bought for use in regions broader than just the continental United States and can range up to $799. Also, checking more than one bag costs $50 more, and the company may charge an "initiation fee" at some point in the future.
  • United is permitting customers to buy yearlong memberships in United Club for $500 (and up).

United says that as of today, it is "the only U.S. carrier to offer an annual subscription for its extra-legroom economy seating and checked baggage service charges."

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