I was driving this afternoon on the way to an appointment and turned the radio on to get the top national news. The #1 story? Airline fees. How expensive they are, and how confusing they are to the traveling public.
The reason this was the top story was a congressional hearing held today on the subject of airline fees. The Government Accountability Office has produced a report on the topic and we have worked closely with them on this. There will be lots of stories on this hearing, check them out:
- Associated Press: Airline fees make best deals hard to find, watchdog group says
- Wall Street Journal: Lawmakers Consider Taxing Airlines’ Fees
- Wall Street Journal: Does a Fee Equal Fare at Airlines?
- Bloomberg: U.S. Airlines May Be Forced to Widen Fee Disclosure
I have stated before that if, as a matter of business, airlines want to raise fares this way then fine, as long as the consumer is protected and informed. I have also said that there are public policy considerations to address, including the fact that fare increases done through fees contribute nothing to the aviation trust fund (which funds air traffic control and infrastructure improvements) as well as the fact that these fees ($120 roundtrip to check two bags for example) mean that more people are carrying bags on, which puts added burden on TSA checkpoints and slows the travel process. These are issues that should be addressed.
I have also written that while airlines have looked for new fees to add (bag fees and the new peak travel fee could add $720 to the cost of a roundtrip for a family of 4), they have fought airport efforts to be permitted to assess an additional $2.50 passenger facility charge user fee.
House Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Jerry Costello, as he often does, put it best in his statement: “while the airlines protest vehemently about any increase in the $4.50 passenger facility charge that airports use to fund infrastructure projects, they have a seemingly unlimited appetite to charge their own fees. This is a relationship that is out of balance.”
Well said, Congressman Costello!
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