US airlines bring in baggage charges

United Airlines and US Airways have followed American Airlines by introducing fees for check-in bags in the US as they struggle with the soaring oil price.

The charges will affect UK passengers who take a US internal flight or fly on to Canada, the Caribbean or Latin America. But they will be levied only on economy passengers – first and business-class travellers will be exempt.

US Airways will charge $15 for a first bag on flights booked on or after July 9. United will charge the same for a first bag from today on services from August 18. That is in addition to a $25 charge for a second bag introduced by United in February.

The US Airways fees apply to domestic flights as well as those to Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean. United’s apply on domestic services and to Canada.

Other airlines are expected to follow suit, including some in Europe, after American Airlines led the way among worldwide carriers by bringing in a $15 charge for a single check-in bag last month.

US Airways will also charge for soft drinks, tea and coffee  from August 1 and has increased booking fees for sales other than those online. The carrier has announced wholesale cuts – including the loss of 1,700 jobs, cancellation of aircraft leases and orders, and an 8% reduction in services from October.

United Airlines had already announced plans to ground 100 aircraft and make up to 1,600 staff redundant.

US Airways chief executive Doug Parker said: “Our industry is profoundly challenged by the dramatic increase in fuel prices.”

United and US Airways had been in merger talks until abandoning these at the end of May on the grounds that consolidation in the current circumstances would be too costly. Airline alliance IATA has warned US airlines could lose as much as $10 billion this year.

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