Thursday, July 23, 2015

Somehow, though, the most likely result is
higher fees paid by travelers. On Wednesday,Congressman
John Mica (R-FL) introduced legislation into the House that
would severely limit how much airlines can charge passengers for checking
baggage on flights. The airline industry collected a whopping $38
billion in fees last year, with checked baggage charges—which are
typically $25 and up for a service that was included in the cost of a ticket
not long ago—providing a big chunk of that revenue. Mica's bill, however,
would cap the cost of checking a piece of luggage on a flight at just $4. 50.
Or more specifically, the bill would mandate that airlines "may not
collect from a passenger a fee for an item of checked baggage on a flight in
passenger air transportation if the amount of the fee exceeds the total amount
of passenger facility charges that could be imposed. " A passenger
facility charge (or PFC) is the fee that airports can tack on each time a
flier travels through an airport. They are limited to $4. 50 for each leg of
a journey, and, in the case of a flight with multiple layovers, are capped at
a maximum of $9 per one-way trip and $18 per round trip. The money is
used—or at least is supposed to be used—to fund airport infrastructure
maintenance and improvements. Why does Mica want baggage fees lowered to
the same level as PFCs? "What's good for the goose is good for the
gander," the Congressman said in a press release. It appears as if his true
intention isn't to lower checked baggage fees so much as it is to use the
threat of such legislation as a way to make an increase in PFCs more palatable
to the airlines. Mica and others say that the airlines have been getting
rich on baggage fees (and other fees, and higher fares), but that baggage
revenues in particular are "not contributing to the airport improvement
fund. So, taxpayer revenues now pay the difference to operate and maintain
the air control and air service systems. " Not surprisingly, the airlines
see things differently, and don't want PFCs increased because the added
costs discourage travel without providing any direct benefit to the airlines.
"What's good for travelers is to not nearly double the tax they pay to
step foot in an airport when airports have more than enough resources to
invest in infrastructure today," Airlines for America spokesman Vaughn
Jennings said, per Bloomberg. "That is why airports can't point to a
single project that's not moving forward due to a lack of resources. "
Above all, if there's an increase in fees passed on to travelers, the
airlines want to be the ones making the decisions—and reaping the rewards.
As for the prospect of a bill passing that would cap baggage fees at $4. 50,
don't hold your breath. This story was originally appeared on Money.
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Wednesday,Congressman John Mica (R-FL) introduced legislation into the
House that would severely limit how much airlines can charge passengers for
checking baggage on flights.

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