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Starting May 5th, 2008, United Airlines will charge passengers $25 to check a second bag. Is there a way to get around the fee?  You’ll be exempt if you buy a ticket that isn’t domestic nonrefundable or if you have Premier status of higher in United’s Mielage Plus Program. What about the Star Alliance members? You must have Silver status or higher to have the fee waived.

Spirit Airlines will double the fee for all checked bags beginning Feb. 20th, from $10 a bag if reserved, and $20 without reservations.

My take on this news? It’s annoying, expensive and will create longer lines at check-in while the airline explains the rules and collects payment.  If United finds it lucrative to charge for the second piece of checked luggage, then other major airlines will soon follow. It’s one more way the big carriers are squeezing more money out of  passengers who book the cheaper fares and aren’t flying business class.  Who ends up paying? Everyone pays with longer lines and those who will be hit the hardest are leisure travelers who pay for their own tickets and can’t “expense” the fee.