United Airlines is following rival American Airlines in charging $15 for a first checked bag.

The new fee was announced three weeks after American set the precedent for the charge. United says the fee goes into place for customers who buy tickets beginning Friday for domestic flights of August 18 or later. Also, the Chicago-based carrier is increasing the fee to check three or more bags, overweight bags or items that require special handling to $125 from $100 or to $250 from $200, depending on the item. The fees reflect a struggling airline industry passing the costs of high fuel prices to passengers. Airline expert Tom Parsons says, as of July 1, Southwest Airlines will be the only U.S. carrier that permits two checked bags for free. (AP) ______ Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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