Last year, some pondered whether financial considerations would result in U.S. carriers canceling Coach-class meal service on international routes. At the time, I laughed. Now, I'm not so sure.
As recently as a year ago, even as airlines were buckling under the pressure of record fuel prices and adding fees to find new revenue in nearly every way imaginable, checked baggage remained free on international flights.
The economic meltdown and decline in overall passenger traffic, particularly the near-collapse of business travel, has left airlines in an arguably worse financial position in 2009 than they were in 2008, even as fuel prices have dropped.
In part, this situation is because fuel prices--possibly driven by speculation--have recovered faster than passenger demand.
Now, United is joining U.S. Airways and Continental in imposing a $50 checked baggage fee for a second bag on international flights between North America and Europe.
Will free meals follow as the next thing to go?