Last month, we wrote that United Airlines would be re-introducing the ability for members to redeem miles for a United Club membership and that customers would be able to pay in advance for Economy Plus seating and checked bags for an entire year. United Airlines has published the annual subscriptions that can be purchased at http://www.united.com/subscriptions
A subscription to receive Economy Plus seating starts at $499 a year for flights within the U.S. (excluding Alaska and Hawaii). The fee increases to $599 for flights within North and Central America and to $699 for global access. You can also add a companion to receive Economy Plus seating for $200 or everyone on a reservation, up to eight companions, for an additional $400.00.
Baggage subscriptions start at $349 for one free checked bag on all flights within the U.S. (excluding Alaska and Hawaii). One checked bag within North and Central America is $449 and for $799, you can check one bag on all flights globally. For an additional $50, you can check two bags for free every time you travel within the region you select. And you can add a free bag for one companion for $100 or up to eight companions for $300.
Bottom line: For members who fly frequently with United but not often enough to reach elite status, a subscription may be worth the added comfort of Economy Plus or cheaper than paying for checked bags each time you fly. But do the math before purchasing either option. If you are close to elite status, it may be cheaper to do a couple of mileage runs to reach Premier status, which offers both a free checked bag and Economy Plus seating at the lowest elite tier. Keep in mind that Silver Premier members can only upgrade to Economy Plus 24 hours prior to departure, whereas higher levels get upgraded when making reservations. For a free checked bag, the United MileagePlus Explorer card ($95 annual fee) offers one free checked bag on all United flights booked with the card.