I saw this news from American Airlines, and I was taken aback - it's a seriously flawed policy from a branding perspective:
American Airlines said Wednesday that it would soon start charging passengers $15 to check their first bag each way, or $30 round-trip, if they are flying on a discounted fare.
Why do I say it's a branding problem? Well, consider what American Airlines is: not a discount carrier. When you fly an airline that is not a discount carrier, what are you (presumably) paying for? Some level of service. If you feel like you're getting nickle and dimed at every turn, then heck - why not fly an actual discount carrier and be done with it?
American is just confusing their brand. They would be better off, I think, to raise their fares instead, and not charge this "nickle and diming" fee. It'll just irritate people and send them off to a carrier that's already cheaper. Here's the clueless excuse from the execs there:
American Airlines executives said they had little choice but to impose such fees, given that the price of jet fuel is up more than 80 percent from a year ago.
"Our company and industry simply cannot afford to sit by hoping for industry and market conditions to improve," American's chief executive, Gerard J. Arpey, said Wednesday at a shareholder meeting.
So... they already charge (as most airlines do) for excess bags. I rather suspect that upping the fee for each ticket by $25 or $30 would have gone mostly unnoticed, and would have actually raised more revenue - not to mention the fact that it would have meshed with the brand better. Dumb, dumb, dumb.
Update: This is a great comment from my friend Mike:
What I love about the whole stupid idea is that if you want to bring shampoo, toothpaste or any other hazardous health and beauty aid product with you, you're screwed. You can now check the stuff for $15 or spend the money when you arrive to buy the stuff, only the throw it away when you leave.
Now, I'm not a big fan of lawsuits, but given the current environment, I suspect that someone could make a viable claim that this rule is discriminatory towards women. There's no way to carry makeup and non-trivial amounts of lotion onboard, so you have to pay to check it. This makes it even more brilliant - the PR is awful, and it will likely generate lawsuits. Whether they end up being classified as frivolous or not, it will still cost American money to defend against them.
PR, branding, travel