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US Airways Ups Bag Fee if You Pay at the Airport

Here’s a tip: It pays to pay online, at least when it comes to bag fees. US Airways will now charge passengers an extra $5 when paying their bag fees at the airport. The rule is effective on flights booked after today for travel beginning July 9.

Here at the SmarterTravel office, my colleagues’ initial reactions ranged from, “That is SUCH a pain!” to “That’s ridiculous!” Are you sensing a theme? Here’s my take: Look out! It’s a trap!

In all seriousness, this seems like nothing more than a cynical attempt to collect an extra $5 from people who either forget to pay their fees online or simply assume they are supposed to pay their fee at the airport. (And to be honest, this seems more logical, doesn’t it? To pay when you actually check your bag?) On its website, US Airways tries to play nice, saying, “Beginning July 9, 2009, you’ll be able to pay for checked bags when you check in online—$15 for your first checked bag and $25 for your second. For customers who choose to pay for checked bags at the airport, there will be an additional $5 service fee, so save a few when you check in online!”

But make no mistake, this is a free-money proposition for US Airways. What, exactly, does your $5 “service fee” pay for? The fifteen seconds it takes to make change for a $10 bill? The effort required to lift your bag onto a conveyor belt? No, it’s literally free money, a little gift from you to US Airways. So take the carrier’s advice and pay your fee online.

The saddest part about this is that US Airways had actually been generating some goodwill lately. The carrier was making strides in its on-time performance, and recently reneged on its unpopular beverage policy. So much for all that, I suppose. US Airways, what are you thinking? (Actually, I think I might know.)

Clearly I’m peeved by this, but I want to hear what you think. Leave a comment below and share your thoughts on US Airways’ latest fee.

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