On June 12, United announced it will add a $15 fee for first checked bags. United's policy applies to tickets purchased on or after June 13 for travel on or after August 18—yes, the fee takes effect one day after its announcement.
Ever since American broke from the pack and added the fee a few weeks ago, it has seemed a foregone conclusion that similarly cash-strapped airlines would follow suit. United's new fee, then, comes as little surprise, even though passengers were furious with American and will likely have choice words for United as well.
But the airlines know most passengers need to check bags, and the financial benefit from charging for this "service" is apparently too appealing to resist. So the question becomes: Will other airlines follow suit?
We may get an answer very soon. According to The Arizona Republic, US Airways is strongly considering a first-checked-bag charge, and may announce the fee as early as today. The airline may also begin charging for soft drinks. Soft drinks!
We'll have more on the US Airways story as it develops, and keep an eye on other carriers as well. If US Airways does add a fee for first checked bags, it's hard to imagine the remaining legacy lines won't do the same.
Editor's note: As you probably know, US Airways did in fact add a $15 first-checked-bag fee and a beverage charge. Read our Today In Travel entry on it here.