Frequent fliers have been joking for awhile that we’ll soon be paying for the air we breathe while flying.

And the way things are looking now, that day might not be so far away.

Today, U.S. Airways–my least favorite airline–announced that it has discontinued free beverage service. Bottled water and soda now cost thirsty passengers $2 USD. Cheapskates can pony up a buck for coffee or tea (no word on whether refills are free).

Fortunately, the airline will waive this rule in certain situations:

US Airways says it will provide water and drinks for passengers in cases of medical emergency and during extensive delays. If a desperately thirsty passenger does forget a few extra dollars, US Airways spokesman Morgan Durrant says flight attendants will likely “err on the side of the customer” and give him or her water. After all, the airline wouldn’t want its customers drinking tap water from the aircraft bathroom. That water is safe to drink, just not very palatable….

No other airlines have indicated that they plan to follow US Air’s lead, but don’t be surprised if flights of the future–at least on U.S. carriers– start charging for the very air you breathe.

Photo: renatela (creative commons)