Airlines Take Nickel-and-Diming to New Heights

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It looks as if all of the people we spoke to for our piece on American Airlines and its first-checked bag fee were right. They all said it was only a matter of time before other airlines started making announcements about their own first-checked bag fee, and today United Airlines joined the club announcing it would start charging $15 to check a single bag on domestic flights.

Odds are United will catch some flak for this on the blogs and in the mainstream media, but it's very unlikely that it will have to deal with the crap storm that American had to endure. But that's what you get for being first to the party. United was the first airline to initiate a second-checked bag fee of $25, a move that was also followed by other airlines.

Today there were also rumors that US Airways might begin charging for soft drinks. The airline also has experience in breaking new ground when it comes to charging for stuff that used to be free. It was the first to start charging for meals several years ago.

The way the industry is headed it probably won't be long before we see an actual airline like Derrie-Air, the fictional airline created by Philadelphia Media Holdings that determines ticket price on the weight of the passenger and luggage -- "The less you weigh, the less you pay" was the slogan. Philadelphia Media Holdings ran 36 ads for the made-up airline this past week in the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News along with ads on to demonstrate that print and newspaper ads can still generate noise. It proved its point.