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In 1993 when I was just starting to travel frequently on business, my preferred airline was American. Later that year, when my wife and I went to take my first born to Arizona, the gate attendant in Chicago hit is with a $40 on the spot fee for gate checking our stroller. Over the next ten years I spent well over $100,000 on Delta -- most of it in Full Fare Coach, last minute business travel (the highest profit margin seats on the plane).
Welcome to 2008. American has decided that they'll now charge passengers an extra $15 dollars for checking even 1 suitcase that's under 50 pounds. As a result, many will try even harder to stuff everything they own into the evil roller bags. That means longer lines at security, longer boarding times on planes, less space in the overhead compartments, and more passenger injuries from falling suitcases (common in the industry, unfortunately).
Fuel is more expensive. I get that. Raise the ticket prices honestly instead of making up new and interesting ways to bilk passengers.
Corporations do the dumbest things sometimes. I'll bet right now there's an executive somewhere telling travel agents "well, we talked to a lot of other people and they agreed with this decision."
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talking to the RIGHT people.