Are they kidding? Delta, Continental charging $25 to check a bag!

Hey, is the recession over or something? Must be, because the airlines have suddenly decided to go crazy, raising our baggage fees again. Continental started it, hiking its domestic rates a jaw-dropping $10, from $15 to $25 for the first bag. The second bag now costs $35, up from $25.
That means for a round tip, you have to add $50 to the cost of flying! (The airline will grant you a measly discount of $2 and $3, respectively, if you reserve your bags' place online ahead of time. Big whoop.)

Delta, lest we confuse it with an airline that wants to get ahead by charging competitive rates, has matched the increase. Both of them follow U.S. Airways, which jumped its prices last August, but which grants a slightly more generous $5 for booking ahead.

Update: On Wednesday, United joined the fray, upping its fees to the same level, starting for travel after January 21. (And the airlines swear they're not colluding.) And by Monday, American airlines joined the group, despite the fact it pretended, a week before, that it had no such plans.

So far, American Airlines has abstained from raising its fees, which are currently at $15 and $25 -- a virtual bargain nowadays. But given the hive mind of the airline industry, it's unlikely to be long before it matches its competitiors.

Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways are still doing it right, and neither charges for the first bag. Patronize them.

These fees are annoying. They're possibly even insulting. But think of them as a blessing in disguise, because thanks to them, the airlines are handing you the opportunity to buy many of your trips at a discount. Whereas checking baggage used to be part of your ticket, now you have the option of keeping it off the expenses list.

More than ever, it's imperative that you do everything you can to under pack so that you can bring your bag as a carry-on and avoid these fees.

I implore you to take three minutes and 37 seconds to watch my Savings Experiment video about how to consolidate your stuff to avoid checking anything. What you learn could save you $50 every single time you take a trip. Click here to see the video!

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