A state of flux has come over the airline industry. The CEOs are panicking about the price of oil and the necessity to keep their respective companies afloat, and even profitable. They are moving to tactics such as charging customers to check a bag or pay for a soda on the plane.
These tiny charges do not seem like much on the surface but over time the irritation level of fliers will grow. People will start carrying as much as they can on the plane, then bags will have to be checked on the jetway. It is ineffective to try and nickel and dime people to stay out of the red. The airlines should temporarily reduce capacity and raise fares to make up the difference. They will go out with fuller planes and a better profit for each.
All of these charges are coming at the same time as a reduction in frequent flier benefits permeates the different programs. US Airways is the most obvious offender, taking away a lot of the benefits of being a frequent flier with them and potentially driving away the only group of people that can help them stay out of bankruptcy, business travelers.
The only real perk of lots of flying for a business traveler are the miles and elite status that comes with them. If airlines devalue the status and the fact that a customer has been loyal, they are bound to lose that customer. Airlines should be doing all they can to cut costs without passing them along to the customer outside of the price of a ticket. If they can do that, they will stay in business and keep a base of frequent fliers.