Prominent US Senator Requesting Holiday Bag Fee Amnesty
On the heels of a new report stating that the airline industry will continue to add to its coffers this year through ancillary revenue, a powerful politician is calling on carriers and asking for a little holiday amnesty.
Airlines are looking at a near-20 percent profit increase from such fees as checked bags, changed tickets, seat assignments and more, according to a projection by research firm IdeaWorksCompany and car rental booking platform CarTrawler released on Monday. Carriers are projected to take in $59.2 billion in ancillary revenue globally, per the projection, an increase of 18.8 percent year over year.
Almost a third of that total, $36.7 billion, will come from checked baggage, premium seats and on-board dining, according to IdeaWorksCompany and CarTrawler. The rest will come from such activities as selling frequent-flyer miles and commissions from car rentals, hotels and other travel services.
With the heavy holiday travel season approaching in two weeks, starting with Thanksgiving, at least two airlines are imposing increases in bag fees. Spirit Airlines will, for the second consecutive year, add a surcharge to its checked bag fees. And this year, it will be joined by fellow budget airline Frontier, which made this announcement on its website for flights between Nov. 19 and Jan. 5:
“Carry-on bag prices increase by $5 at booking and up to 24 hours before departure, $10 at Web Check-in and $5 at the Airport kiosk or ticket counter; 1st checked bag increases by $5 at Flyfrontier.com, at booking and up to 24 hours before departure and increases by $10 at call center, web check-in and airport ticket counter or self-service kiosk. Second checked bag prices increase by $10.”
That was more than enough for U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) to handle.
Nelson, the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee, sent a letter to the CEOs of all major U.S. carriers and called on the airline industry to halt any plans they may have to charge increased checked-bag fees during the holidays.
“These increased surcharges fly in the face of declining fuel costs and appear focused on increasing profitability on the backs of American families,” Nelson wrote. “If your company does plan to impose holiday surcharges, I request that you rescind those plans immediately.”
Earlier this year, Nelson released a Commerce Committee minority report taking aim at the airline industry for failing to adequately disclose extra fees and add-on costs charged to the flying public.
The report made several recommendations, including one requiring checked and carry-on baggage fees to have a clear connection between the costs incurred by the airline and the fees charged.
Here is the text of Nelson’s letter to the airlines:
November 6, 2015
According to recent reports, at least two airlines plan to impose “holiday surcharges” that will increase baggage fees during the peak holiday travel period.
These increased surcharges fly in the face of declining fuel costs and appear focused on increasing profitability on the backs of American families. That’s why I am seeking an assurance from your company that you will not impose a holiday surcharge on baggage fees. Furthermore, if your company does plan to impose holiday surcharges, I request that you rescind those plans immediately.
In August, Senate Commerce Committee minority staff released a report that found ancillary fees, such as change and cancellation penalties and preferred seating fees, were increasingly keeping consumers in the dark about the true cost of air travel. The report made a number of recommendations, including one requiring ancillary fees to have a clear connection between the cost incurred by the airline and the fee charged. I hope to include many of the report’s recommendations in legislation reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration that’s expected to come before the Senate next year.
Thank you for your attention to these concerns. I look forward to receiving your company’s response on this important issue no later than November 20, 2015.
More by Rich Thomaselli
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