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United Airlines Baggage Shipping

United Airlines recently became the first U.S. airline to offer overnight baggage shipping for customers. There are hoards of companies taking advantage of Joe Public’s mistrust of airline baggage handlers, and United has decided to cash in on the lucrative business. You could say they’ve been in the business for a while. Once on a trip to Australia, they had to ship my luggage from Sydney to Byron Bay after misplacing it in LAX. I’m not sure anyone will be any more confident in the airline’s ability to handle baggage in this manner, but we’ll see.

Door-to-Door Baggage will be the moniker of the new service. It will enable customers in the continental United States to ship anything from suitcases to golf clubs overnight. Door-to-Door will pick it up at your home or office, and then deposit it safely at your destination within 24 hours (provided your destination is also within the 48 contiguous United States). The cost will be $149 one way for flights less than 1,000 miles, or $179 for longer flights.

How does it work? Up to 10 days prior to travel, customers may visit where they select their appropriate trip and then schedule and pay for their shipment. Next, customers print their shipping documents that will be attached to the bags by the courier service. On the scheduled pickup day, the bags are picked up at a home or office — generally between noon and 6 p.m. — or dropped off at any of the courier’s authorized shipping centers. By 4:30 p.m. the next day, the bags are delivered to the customer’s final destination.

“Door-to-Door Baggage is another new service from United’s Travel Options portfolio that puts more choices into the hands of our customers and provides them with the flexibility to customize their own travel experiences,” said Dennis Cary, senior vice president and Chief Marketing and Customer Officer. “While offering customers a new benefit, it also provides United with a new revenue stream that, when combined with our other ancillary revenue and fee initiatives, is expected to generate more than one billion dollars in 2009.”

There you have it. You can either fork over $15 to check your bag at the airport, or you can spend $150 to send it ahead of you. Either way, your bag is still flying United.