The reaction to American Airline's move to charge $15 per checked bag has been swift and negative. Consumers have described the fee for something that used to be included as "outrageous" and "annoying" and Tracy Coenen joked that airlines may soon begin charging for the use of the bathroom.

But I think consumers should be applauding the fee. The fact is that the rising cost of fuel is sending airline expenses into the stratosphere and the only way to stay in business is to pass the increases onto the consumer. It's not like American Airlines is rolling in cash -- take a look at their financial statements. The company reported a first quarter loss of $328 million. It's like Richard Branson said: the fastest way to become a millionaire is to start off a billionaire and buy an airline.

Consumers should really look at the extra $15 surcharge as a discount for not checking a bag -- without the bag fee, American Airlines would have to hike fares for everyone. And doesn't it make sense that the people checking their bags should pay a larger portion of the extra costs?

So don't get mad. Travel light!

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