Proposal to Raise Security Fee on Airline Tickets Comes Under Fire

The president’s proposal to increase the Aviation Passenger Security Fee as well as the administration’s intention to divert some of that money into the general fund is not sitting well with a travel advocacy group which calls this an “increased financial burden” on passengers. Their contention seems to be, if passengers can’t have cheap flights, they should at least get something tangible that directly improves the flight experience.

My take on all this? Passengers are being asked to pay more for one of the things they hate most about air travel today: security. Bottom line: the likelihood of this passing in our current political climate is south of zero.

Small Increase in Security Tax

According to reports, the current $5 to $10 round-trip fee (depending on length of trip) could increase to $15 by 2017, and give the Dept. of Homeland Security the ability to raise it even higher. Among the arguments: who should pay for security; airlines say it’s the government’s responsibility while the government’s response is those who use the air travel system should pay a portion the costs of keeping it safe.

Should Funds Go to Security or Infrastructure?

The U.S. Travel association has weighed in with its opposition, especially regarding the diversion of money to the general fund. They want all this money to go toward improvements to airports and air travel in general. As the group’s CEO says, this funding should no go toward non-travel related expenses: “Any increase in travel fees should be directly reinvested in improvements to our nation’s travel system and infrastructure.”

Also controversial is the administration’s proposal to add a $100 per flight surcharge which the government is portraying as a tax on corporate jets.

Who Protests Rising Airline Fees?

A number of air travel groups say these proposed tax and fee hikes will hurt demand for travel, but will it? The airlines have been raising their own fees for the past several years, plus we’ve seen more than a dozen attempted airfare hikes in 2011 alone but so far, demand remains relatively good and forecasts for airline profits are looking up, as well.

Question for my readers: When it comes to air travel taxes, surcharges and fees, what’s your breaking point?

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Published: September 23, 2011