Last week, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) proposed a bill that would require each airline to allow passengers one free checked bag per flight, but while passengers applauded the move, airline advocacy groups immediately took aim at the perk.
Group Says Regulating Bag Fees Inappropriate
As Steve Lott of the Air Transport Association told the Los Angeles Times, “We don’t think it’s appropriate for the government to regulate what services a private industry should offer to customers and at what price,” and then added pointedly that the airline industry was deregulated in the late 1970′s.
Podcast: Listen to what one airfare analyst has the say about ditching bag fees (hint: there’s a lot of laughter in this podcast)
It’s also important to note that these fees make up a significant part of a carrier’s revenue. In the first six months of this year alone, bag fees alone brought in more than $1.6 billion for U.S. airlines.
Homeland Security Head Favors Free Bags
Passengers who hate these fees do have another important ally, though: Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Not long ago, she complained that bag fees were prompting more passengers to use carryon bags which slow up security lines, and suggested the airlines provide one checked-bag for free.
The airlines didn’t listen to her, and it remains to be seen if Sen. Landrieu will have any better luck, but passengers are advised not to count on any change in the status quo anytime soon. In the meantime, two airlines still offer customers free bags: JetBlue and Southwest.