Digital News Report – As holiday travelers prepare for the busiest air travel day of the year, US Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., introduced legislation that would require airlines to allow passengers one checked and one carry-on bag for free.
The Basic Airline Standards to Improve Customer Satisfaction (BASICS) Act would prevent airline from charging a fee on the first checked bag. “Passengers have been nickeled and dimed for far too long and something has to be done about it,” the senator said. “Air carriers should be required to provide a minimum standard of service to their passengers or face additional fees – that is what the Airline Passenger BASICS Act and the FAIR Act will do.”
Landrieu said that airlines have begun charging fees for almost every service. Passengers are charged for checked and carry-on bags, pillows, cancellations, and snacks. She said that in 2008 and 2009, airlines collected $4 billion in change/cancellation fees and $3.9 billion in checked baggage fees.
“When an airline advertises a flight, that is how much it should cost, plain and simple,” Landrieu said.
In testimony before Congress earlier this year, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano testified that the bag check fees have increased Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening costs by $260 million a year. The secretary said that these fees have forced the taxpayer to pick up the tab.
The TSA says the number of checked bags decreased by 20 percent since 2009, leading to increased volume of carry-on bags. The increase in carry-on bags has created longer, slower moving lines at the security checkpoints.
A study by the U.S. Travel Association found that 72 percent of respondents said the increased volume of carry-on bags is one of their top frustrations with their flying experience.
Under the BASICS Act passengers would be allowed one free checked-in bag and access to potable water. Travelers will also be able to take a carry-on bag without fees.
Landrieu said the bill also calls for an increase in security fees for airlines who do charge.
By: Jael Kirk