Shortly after the September 11th terrorist attacks, the TSA was introduced to oversee security at all US airports (and establish standards that must be met at international airports where flights depart for the US). To pay for this, a fee was instituted on all airline itineraries: $2.50 for a one-way trip, $5 for a nonstop round-trip, and $10 max for a roundtrip with a connection. This fee was capped at $10 per round trip itinerary.
I’ll put my cards on the table: I think that 99.99999999999999999999999999998% of what the TSA does is needless security theater and that the most effective thing we did after 9/11 was institute bulletproof and locking doors to airplane cockpits. That said, that opinion (which I imagine is shared by many) is no excuse for talking to TSA agents as if they’re not human beings, they’re just doing their job.
For those of you who follow politics, you’ve probably noticed that the US government has been stuck in a cycle of budget gridlocks. Any time spending needs to increase, they have to find money somewhere in order to get the backing to pass the bill.
So, you know how airline prices have increased in recent memory due to airline and route consolidation? Not only that, but passengers are paying billions in luggage and seat selection fees every year?
The US government followed the lead of airlines and has decided airline passengers are its new cash machine.
As part of the most recent budget deal, TSA fees have been more than doubled. The rules, predictably, are complex, but here’s a summary (based on my interpretation of the new rules):
- One-way flight: $5.60
- Round-trip: $11.20
Sounds simple, right? Wait a minute. If there is a domestic layover of more than 4 hours or an international layover of more than 12 hours, the fees reset. Not only this, but the fees are now uncapped! Let’s say you have a flight from DFW-ORD-LHR-GVA, round trip with a 5 hour layover in Chicago and a 14 hour layover in London. Your fees on that roundtrip will jump from $10 to $33.60. For a family of four, your fees just increased almost $100!
What you can do
Congressmen on both sides of the aisle have criticized the TSA’s interpretation of the new rules (namely, that the fees are not capped), so there’s a good chance we could see changes down the road.
The regulations are already in place for tickets purchased/ticketed July 21, 2014 or after. The government is still accepting public comments, however. Make your voice heard! You can go to www.regulation.gov and search for “TSA-2001-11120-0085” to register your comments on the new fees.
I’ve tried to provide the facts of the issue but I know I’m biased.