Shmuck of the Week

Just when you thought air travel couldn’t get any more annoying, United Airlines has decided to start charging $15 to check your suitcase. Make that your first suitcase. Your second bag will cost another $25.

Oh, and in the event of a sudden drop in cabin pressure, oxygen masks will fall from the ceiling, at a cost of $50 (this isn’t true…yet). But make sure you pay for yours first before paying for, and assisting, others (also not true…yet).

United has never been one of Denver’s favorite companies, although it has certainly been the biggest carrier at DIA for years (it currently has about 31 percent of the market share, not including its discount subsidiary, Ted, which United just eliminated).

If the airline wasn’t ruining summer vacation plans, losing or mangling baggage or leaving flyers shell shocked with bad service and unbelievable policies, then it was revoking frequent flyer miles, monopolizing the local market or annoying us by stealing Gershwin songs. Check out www.untied.com, a nice word play, for a good read on these matters.

Some of its recent problems – as well as long security lines, parking problems and general headaches associated with just about every airport in the nation -- can simply be attributed to the airline industry in general post-9/11 and to the ridiculous rise in fuel costs over the past couple years. After all, United isn’t the only airline to have cut meal service (which some might consider a good thing) or to charge baggage fees (thank you, American Airlines), or to make us pay for snacks like Frontier Airlines (which just rolled out $3 bags of Mountain Man Nut & Fruit Company goodies).

But charging to check a suitcase? That’s pure shmuckery. Especially since they probably won’t offer a refund when they accidentally send that bag to Boise.

For previous Shmucks, click here.

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