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AirTran boosts fee for first bag to $20

/ Source: msnbc.com

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

"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.)