Frontier announced it will add a $15 first-checked-bag fee, effective for tickets purchased on or after September 13 for travel on or after November 1. Frontier will also be lowering its third-checked-bag fee from $50 to $25, so there's some good news for folks who tend to pack a little extra. Still, this makes Frontier the eighth airline to add a first-bag fee since May, when American started the trend. It also means that now more than half the country's major airlines charge for a first-checked bag.
What's surprising to me, at this point, is not that airlines continue to add this fee, but that carriers are no longer giving passengers much time to react. When American announced its fee, customers had about three weeks to book travel before the fee took effect. US Airways gave its passengers almost a full month. But United, Northwest, and Continental had their policies take effect for tickets purchased the day of or immediately after announcing the new fee.
Now, I've decided that for the rest of the year, I'm going play an informal game of "pick the next airline to add a first-checked-bag fee." (I'm also welcoming suggestions for a catchier title.) With that in mind, let's take a quick look at our contestants: AirTran, Alaska, Delta, JetBlue, Midwest, Southwest, and Virgin America. Who will be next to succumb? My guess is that either AirTran, Midwest, or Delta will be next, probably Delta because it's merging with Northwest, which already charges a fee. How many airlines will be left standing at the end of the year? I can see at least three airlines (Southwest, JetBlue, and Virgin America) holding out until 2009.
What are your predictions? Let me know in a comment below, and be sure to keep score at home.