(AP) - Delta Air Lines Inc., the world's biggest carrier, said Wednesday it will impose a $15 fee to check a first bag, becoming the last of the six legacy airlines to impose such a fee.
The carrier also said it is cutting certain other fees as it aligns its policies with those of Northwest Airlines, which it acquired last week.
Atlanta-based Delta said that effective immediately, for traffic on or after Dec. 5, customers flying within the U.S. will be charged $15 for the first checked bag and $25 for the second checked bag when traveling domestically, consistent with Northwest's existing policies.
Customers who purchased Delta tickets on or before Wednesday, and who are traveling on or after Dec. 5, will be charged $50 for a second bag, but will be permitted to check their first bag without charge based on Delta's previous policy.
Customers flying in first or business class, including SkyMiles Medallion members and WorldPerks Elite members, will be able to check up to three bags, up to 70 pounds each, for free, Delta said.
Delta also said it is eliminating SkyMiles and WorldPerks award ticket surcharges, reducing reservation sales direct ticketing charges and eliminating curbside check-in administrative fees.
Effective immediately, Delta will eliminate the $25 to $100 fuel surcharges assessed for SkyMiles and WorldPerks award ticket travel originating from the U.S. and Canada.
The surcharges were instituted earlier this year by both airlines due to high fuel prices, which have declined significantly since their record level in July.
As of Thursday, Delta will reduce the fee assessed for tickets purchased over the phone from a reservations sales representative from $25 to $20, consistent with Northwest's policy.
Delta will also reduce the fee collected when customers redeem either SkyMiles or WorldPerks award travel over the phone with a reservations sales representative from $25 to $20. There is no charge for customers who book tickets and redeem award travel online at Delta's Web site or Northwest's Web site.
As for curbside check-in, Delta said that, effective Dec. 5, it will drop the $3 fee it has been charging.
Delta also said that last week it began offering coach customers on certain flights the ability to purchase a better seat assignment in their cabin for $5 to $25, depending on distance traveled and seat location.
The so-called "coach choice seats" represent less than 10 percent of all seat assignments available on Delta-operated flights, the airline said.
Most other Northwest baggage policies and fees will be aligned to Delta's structure, effective Dec. 5, Delta said. Travel on Delta and Northwest tickets purchased prior to the announcement of the changes will continue to be governed by prior Delta and Northwest policies.
Delta completed its $2.8 billion stock-swap acquisition of Eagan, Minn.-based Northwest on Oct. 29, creating the world's biggest carrier in terms of traffic. The operations of Northwest, which is now a Delta subsidiary, will be integrated with Delta's over the next one to two years.
The company keeps Delta's name, its Atlanta headquarters, and chief executive Richard Anderson, who used to run Northwest.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)