Congressional Leaders Introduce Legislation to Stop Airline Fee Faux Pas

Doesn’t it just warm your heart when you see our elected leaders actually doing something good for the community?

And we’re not being sarcastic, either. (Not today, at least.)

Some heroic Congress members have reintroduced legislation to stop sky-high airline fees. We can think of nothing better to help us get into the holiday spirit!

Senator Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Representative Steve Cohen (TN-09), and Representative Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04) presented the Forbidding Airlines from Imposing Ridiculous (FAIR) Fees Act on December 9, 2021.

And WOW, it sure is refreshing to see legislation supporting the traveling public instead of kissing up to the airline executives and lobbyists.

The FAIR Fees Act would stop airlines from charging astronomical fees for basic services like checked bags, seat selection, and ticket changes. Instead of price gouging, airlines would be limited to charging a reasonable and proportional cost for the service provided.

It asks the Department of Transportation to review any other fees collected by the airline to ensure fair costs. For example, the bill would put an end to airlines charging travelers extra to ensure that their children can sit with them on a flight.

We’ve all watched in horror as greedy executives have hiked up the prices of basic aviation services. Simply flying economy with a bag or two costs a pretty penny.

Before COVID-19 significantly curtailed air travel, the airlines collected $109.5 billion in ancillary fee revenue in 2019 alone. In 2010, ancillary fee revenue only accounted for $22.6 billion, showcasing a whopping 485% growth trajectory in 9 years.

And in 2019, US domestic airlines raked in $5.8 billion from baggage and $2.8 billion in ticket reservation fees. Until recently, there’s been no end to price gouging in sight, especially as airlines try to recover from the disaster that was 2020.

Senator Markey spoke about his commitment to the FAIR Fees Act, stating, “As we build back better from the pandemic, it’s time to ground rising airline fees that costs air travelers a pretty penny in the skies. Airlines should not be able to bilk passengers just because they need to check a couple of bags, or charge an extra fee so parents can sit with their kids. It should not cost more to cancel or change an airline reservation than the original cost of the ticket, period. During this holiday season—when so many are seeing their loved ones for the first time since the public health crisis began—we must finally end this price gouging and return fairness to the skies. That’s why I’m so proud to lead this important consumer protection legislation, and I thank my colleagues for their partnership.”

Bravo, Senator Markey, for calling out airline executives to practice better Jetiquette.

 

If the bill is passed, airlines would be prohibited from charging unreasonable fees for services outlined in the official document, including:

  • Reservation changes or cancellations for a flight

  • Checked or carry-on bags

  • Seat choice or assignment

  • “Any other fee imposed by an air carrier relating to a flight in passenger air transportation” (Sec. 2.b.4)

“In a holiday season of giving, airlines are again taking,” claimed Senator Blumenthal. “Every year, airlines pocket tens of billions of dollars by swindling travelers for simply checking bags, changing a reservation, or just selecting their seats. Urgent action is needed to protect consumer pocketbooks from airline price gouging. I’m proud to join my colleagues in this bicameral effort to prevent travelers from being needlessly nickel-and-dimed.”

Multiple organizations have endorsed the FAIR Fees Act. Some of these endorsements come from:

  • Consumer Reports

  • The National Consumers League

  • The Consumer Federation of America

  • Consumer Action

  • Travelers United

  • The Business Travel Coalition

  • The US Public Interest Research Group

And we’re so thankful that people are finally speaking up about the unfair habits of airlines.

“Working class families, especially those from Latino and Black communities, are disproportionately affected, limiting their ability to travel and see their families,” Representative García points out. “The flying public deserves better, especially after Congress provided billions of dollars through the Payroll Support Program (PSP) to help airlines and their employees survive the pandemic.”

Apart from the four Congress members leading the charge for the FAIR Fees Act, other original co-sponsors include:

  • Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)

  • Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)

  • Rep. André Carson (IN-07)

  • Rep. Barbara Lee (CA-13)

  • Rep. Bobby L. Rush (IL-01)

  • Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC)

  • Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL-09)

  • Rep. Mark Takano (CA-41)

  • Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03)

  • Rep. Ro Khanna (CA-17)

So what can you do to support the FAIR Fees Act?

You can call or write a letter to your representatives! If you already have a Congress member who endorses the bill, you can thank them for supporting this crucial bill. If you’re unsure if your Congress member will vote yes, then you can quickly tell them why this bill matters to you.

After all, their job is to enact legislation that benefits their constituents. And this enables you to let your voice be heard.

Find your representatives here.

As John Breyault, the Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications, and Fraud for the National Consumers League, said, “Congress bailed out the airline industry with tens of billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money. It is time that the airlines pay the flying public back by getting rid of their outrageous fees once and for all. The FAIR Fees Act would do just that.”

Imagine a world where you never have to settle for Frontier Airlines to save money ever again.

No price gouging means better Jetiquette for everyone, meaning we can all fly friendlier skies without breaking the bank. We support the FAIR Fees Act and hope it becomes law as soon as possible.

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