US Airways has chosen to try to cover rising fuel prices by unbundling their ticket price and charging for services that were here-to-fore free, or built into the base ticket price. They now charge $15 for the first piece of checked baggage ($25 for the second), and charge for most in-cabin services,
including for soft drinks.
I'm not going to argue with them about this. Airline pricing is a wickedly complex topic, and folks who know more than I do think this is the best way to get incremental revenue. Really, these charges don't affect me (I almost never check bags, except when on vacation with my family). In fact, as I write this, it strikes me that the baggage charge is really a price hike mostly on non-business travelers, which is interesting as it bucks the trend of having increasing price spreads over the years between business/last-minute and tourist pricing.
Anyway, the net effect has been to absolutely jam the security screening station this morning. Every passenger seems to be carrying every bag he or she can on board to avoid the $15 charge. What a mess. I can't wait to see what the boarding process is going to be like. Glad I don't have any bags today.
By the way, a few weeks ago I shipped a 60 pound trunk to my kids' camp for about $16 via UPS. If these airline bag charges stick, it might be time for UPS to start soliciting the send-your-luggage-ahead business in earnest. Next time we go skiing or some such place, I am going to seriously consider sending a couple of duffle bags ahead by UPS.
Update: The luggage bins were completely full before the fourth group out of six were called. There was a fairly long line down the jetway of people gate-checking their bags. Apparently, the airline is not set up to charge the $15 when they gate-check the bags, so everyone is hauling all of their bags to the gate and either bringing them on the plane or checking them at the gate for free.