Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Delta Joins United Charging $25 for a Second Bag

Airlines are finding creative ways to increase the cost of a ticket -- without actually increasing the cost of a ticket.

Delta is now joining United in charging passengers $25 for a second checked bag. And USAirways has similar plans.

It's called 'unbundling', something like a hot dog vendor charging you extra for sauerkraut. And it's a sneaky way to increase prices without actually increasing prices. Oh, I said that already.

The other sneaky thing is that United and Delta haven't made the announcement officially. It's hidden on their websites. But, an article in the Washington Post spills the beans.

The baggage fees begin in May -- just in time for peak summer travel season -- no matter when you bought your ticket.

The fee applies to economy-class domestic and international flights. Business- and first-class passengers are exempt. So are some members of an airline's frequent flyer program. So, if you haven't joined a program like Delta SkyMiles or United MileagePlus, do it now, while that's still free.

Airlines used to feed you. Now you have to buy your food on board -- except on l-o-n-g flights. Since so much of airline food isn't too good to begin with, and most airport food court food is of the greasy kidstuff variety, I'd rather bring my own from home or from a sandwich store near home than buy on board.

Airlines used to give you free headsets or free movies, or both. Now, you have to buy them on board. Unless you bring your own, and a portable DVD player, too.

Curbside checking used to be free. Now, some airlines are charging $2 or $3 per bag to check them curbside. That's for the airline. You still have to tip the skycap.

What's next? Charging for the seatbelts?