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US Airways now charging $25 for second bags

US Airways has joined United in charging $25 for second checked bags on all flights. In the past, all the legacy airlines allowed passengers to check two bags for free (subject to weight limits), but earlier in the month, United became the first major carrier to charge passengers checking more than one bag.

Frequent flyer elite members, pre-booked first- and business-class passengers, uniformed military personnel, unaccompanied minors, those checking personal assistive devices, and any travelers who booked their tickets prior to February 26 are exempt from US Airways’ second-bag charge. Airline staff will begin collecting the new fee on May 5.

In a letter to employees obtained by USA Today, US Airways President Scott Kirby said the airline opted to add the baggage charge rather than hike fares and dismissed the idea that this move is another case of airline nickel-and-diming: “The airline industry of 2008 is very different from the industry of 1998 or 1988, and we have to be realistic—and innovative—about our product. I suspect that this will be a year when we see a lot of change in the industry—mergers, acquisitions, and more ‘un-bundled’ services rather than a ‘one product fits all’ approach to our business.”

I think he’s right about expecting a lot of change in 2008. With soaring fuel prices, high demand, and outdated technologies and business models, the airlines will be forced to adapt in order to survive. Undoubtedly, economy-class passengers will be the ones getting a front-row view of this evolutionary process.

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