updated 8/23/2010 1:18:01 PM ET 2010-08-23T17:18:01

AirTran Airways has increased the charge for checking a bag to $20, up from $15 — a change takes effect Sept. 1.

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"This increased fee is being implemented because of the sustained, significant increase in the cost of jet fuel, the airline’s single biggest expense," said AirTran spokesperson Cynthia Tinsley-Douglas. The cost of a gallon of jet fuel was up more than 37 percent in the first quarter of 2010 compared to the same quarter the prior year, she added.

"Passengers have overall been understanding about the change when we explain why it’s necessary," Tinsley-Douglas said.

So far, anyway.

Air travelers are getting annoyed with the "bag-fee creep," said George Hobica of Airfarewatchdog.com, a website offering money-saving tips. "Airlines keep on raising them bit-by-bit and consumers wonder where it will end," he said. "I guess when people start sending bags by FedEx Ground and UPS."

AirTran’s $20 charge matches those imposed by Frontier and Alaska and is less than several other legacy carriers.

JetBlue and Southwest are the only domestic carriers who don’t charge for a first bag. (Click here for a helpful chart composed by Airfarewatchdog.com.)

© 2012 msnbc.com Reprints

Video: Airline passengers fight sky-high fees

  1. Closed captioning of: Airline passengers fight sky-high fees

    >>> safe to say the airlines this summer have travelers other over a barrel. they are trying to charge every dollar they can and that's rough on families with vacation plans. but tonight, as our own tom costello reports, passengers are finding ways to fight back.

    >> reporter: this is the trip the brahani family has been waiting for all summer. they're headed to orlando for three days at disneyworld and the water parks , but rather than pay to check their luggage, they have stuffed everything into just four carry-ons.

    >> we took what we need, not what we want.

    >> reporter: for three days? it's a half a bag?

    >> yeah. we squeezed it in.

    >> reporter: across the country, americans are lightening up to avoid paying up. baggage fees are run $15 to $25 per bag except on jetblue and southwest where bags fly free. if you fly spirit air your carry-on can cost up to $45. the fees to book your flight by phone, to board early, fees for leg room, an aisle seat and food, big fees to change a reservation.

    >> we want cheap airfares without the extra fees. that's just not the reality of where we are now.

    >> reporter: the airlines insist if you look at strictly the base fathe fares, airline tickets are cheaper than they were ten years ago. last year the airlines earned nearly $8 billion on fees. after a decade of losses they are starting to turn a profit.

    >> it is extremely important. it is a revenue stream that's a necessity. it's one that i absolutely believe is here to stay.

    >> reporter: in atlanta, ken schafer refused to pay extra to check his oversize suitcase.

    >> i could have paid $65 and not thrown anything away, but i wasn't willing to pay $65 when the ticket cost $160. so this suitcase is gone.

    >> reporter: he threw everything in the trash before flying to omaha. as for the brahani family, the $300 they saved on luggage will instead be going to school supplies. tom cost lello, nbc news, washington.


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