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Originally published June 16, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified June 17, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Passengers start paying $15 to check first suitcase on American

Passengers start to pay $15 to check first bag on American Airlines; United and US Airways will soon have similar checked-luggage fees

If you're flying American Airlines, the nation's largest carrier, be prepared to pay $15 for the first bag you check.

The fee, announced earlier this spring, took effect Sunday. United Airlines and US Airways has said they will impose similar baggage fees as airlines struggle to offset skyrocketing fuel prices.

Southwest Airlines, meanwhile, today ran ads saying it doesn't charge fees for items that should be free, such as checking two bags.

American's new baggage fee does not apply to passengers who pay full-price for tickets, elite members of its frequent-flier program or people traveling overseas. The second checked bag costs $25. American's carry-on policy of one personal item, such as a purse or laptop, plus one bag remains in place.

Airlines have raised or created a host of other fees, including the charges for children flying alone and for transporting pets. Some also are charging extra for seats on the aisle, by the window or in the emergency row. US Airways has even stopped handing out free pretzels and last week announced it will charge $2 charge for soft drinks this summer.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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