It's official: All the major airlines now charge for bags. But there's a bright side, too


Those of us who were leaning toward Delta Air Lines because of its policy of allowing a free first checked bag can now abandon any favoritism. As of December 5 (just in time for the holidays!), it will start charging $15 for the first check bag. That figure is pretty much what everyone's charging these days. Only upstarts like JetBlue and Southwest don't.

The news, though, brightens in a few quarters. Simultaneously, Delta has decided to halve its fee for a second bag from $50 to a more sensible $25. Not many of us check two bags, though, so the net effect will still be negative for most casual travelers.

The major American airlines, now that they've got you on the hook for your checked bags, are relenting on their fuel surcharges. Delta and Northwest are eliminating their fuel surcharges. It's about time, too, since it's gotten pretty hard to defend them. The price of oil peaked back in the summer but is now less than half what it was at its peak, and in the past month, it has fallen about $30 a barrel.