Senate committee gets set to tee off on airline fees: Today’s D.C. Memo

Senate committee gets set to tee off on airline fees: Today's D.C. Memo

United Airlines Top airline executives face strong congressional headwinds today when they testify before a Senate committee on runaway add-on fees. Technically, the Senate Commerce Committee hearing is on “Oversight of the U.S. Airline Industry,” and it will include the CEOs of United, American and Southwest airlines, as well as the COO of Delta and the president of the flight attendants’ union. But Democratic members of both houses of Congress made it clear last week in reintroducing a bill intended to rein in tack-on fees for baggage, seat selection and rescheduling that they intend to compel the airlines to act. Chuy Garcia “It’s clear that these fees have become a revenue bonanza for airlines, and now they’re hooked on it,” said Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia of Chicago, a top sponsor of the Fair Fees Act in the House. According to the Democrats, airlines collected $110 billion in fees in 2019, before the pandemic, up fivefold from 2010, with $2.8 billion of that in domestic ticket fees and $5.8 billion in domestic baggage fees. With air travel returning to pre-pandemic levels, the fees have persisted. Garcia charged that baggage fees became widespread in 2008, typically with $15 charged for the first bag and $35 for the second, but those have now routinely risen to $35 and $45. “How much is $5.8 billion in fees? It’s equal to the amount that American Airlines will receive for the federal payroll-support program” intended to address pandemic losses, Garcia said. “If we don’t act, […]

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