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Bill would ban fees for carry-ons

U.S. airline fees for carry-on bags were deemed "a slap," "outrageous" and "skyway robbery" as six Democratic senators moved to ban the practice after Spirit Airlines said it will charge passengers as much as $45 to stow luggage in overhead airplane compartments.

"Let my briefcase go," Sen. Frank Lautenberg (N.J.) said at a news conference on Capitol Hill today. "We're going from the sublime to the ridiculous with airlines."

Lawmakers introduced legislation to ban carry-on fees after closely held Spirit said April 6 it will charge $30 in advance and $45 at the gate starting in August. Members of its
"fare club, who pay a $39.95 annual fee, will pay $20 to carry on a bag. Passengers will still be allowed a personal item that fits under the seat in front of them.

"When you charge for a carry-on bag it's a slap for anyone who flies," Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.) said. "It's time to draw the line."

Schumer said he also will press for legislation to tax carry-on fees unless Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner uses his power to do so.

"This is just wrong," Sen. Ben Cardin (Md.) said of the carry-on fees.

The carry-on charge is part of a broader fare and fee restructuring by Spirit, which the Miramar, Fla.-based company says will lower some passengers' costs, speed up security lines and boarding and reduce delays.

-- Bloomberg News

By Michael Bolden  |  April 14, 2010; 3:57 PM ET
Categories:  Advisories , Airports  
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Enough with this nanny state crap! If you don't like it, don't fly with them.

More government is not the answer!

Posted by: wpjunk | April 14, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

And yet they can't pass a budget.

Posted by: jiji1 | April 14, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

The gubmint has no business interfering with this issue, because it will not just end at airline carry-on fees. BTW, where were these Senators when the airlines started charging these fees in the first place. How about charging an extra $50.00 to fly idiotic Senators?

Posted by: CubsFan | April 14, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Maybe these politicians should focus on updating the antiquated radar system used by the FAA and worry less about nominal fees that will, as the airlines say, reduce boarding time and keep people from hogging the overhead bins. Talk about grandstanding!

Posted by: WashingtonDame | April 14, 2010 5:53 PM | Report abuse

"nominal fees that will, as the airlines say, reduce boarding time and keep people from hogging the overhead bins"

The fee is hardly nominal if it's more than 10% or even 20% of the ticket cost. If it reduces boarding time, it's only because people stop using the darn bins. Here's an idea to really save money -- make the planes even smaller. If nobody's using the overhead bins, that just seems like wasted space. Sure, if you cut out some height above the seats, you have to do it uniformly across the top of the plane, and maybe the whole circumference. That'll mean narrower aisles, but that's OK if we're not toting bags. And, tall people can crouch. If they stopped loading food carts on to the planes, they could reduce gate time and really save costs, too.

All of these changes would reduce fuel consumption, which would be ideal -- and could reduce ticket charges...or make it possible for the airlines to forgo all these asinine bag charges.

Posted by: fischy | April 14, 2010 7:33 PM | Report abuse

The problem with a "market solution" is that folks will pay the extra just to get where they're going. Look at United Air -- they're willing to put up with insults, heavy checked bag fees, and horrible service just to get someplace that Southwest will get you for much cheaper.

Posted by: doof | April 14, 2010 10:25 PM | Report abuse

Off-topic, but I hate it when people just assume Southwest is always the cheapest because they market themselves a low-cost carrier. Look for a midweek flight in May from BWI-Chicago, say 5/18 to 5/25. United, American, and Southwest offer the same exact price for a nonstop: $215 r/t with tax. BWI-LAX min fares: 269 on Air Tran, 273 on Southwest, 276 on USAir (they're all the same, the taxes are just different on the stopovers - and AirTran's and United's $299 nonstops are both cheaper than Southwest's $349).

Airline fares are nuts. They change every day (or more often), have various restrictions & rules, and different policies for baggage, seats, and check-in. Keep the gov't out of it, and just let people be intelligent. If Spirit drops their fares $20 each way to get away with adding a $40 carry on, fee, that's great, I might take them for a short trip, and stuff my backpack under the seat. The gov't shouldn't take away that option.

Posted by: Chris737 | April 14, 2010 11:06 PM | Report abuse

If the bag fees were so outrageous, no one would pay them. But obviously many are willing to pay the fees. In a way, I kind of like them. Why should I be forced to pay for bag handlers, baggage claim carousels, explosive screening machines, etc. if I don't use them?

I've found that in some cases, the legacy carrier's fees are still cheaper even with the bag fees than Southwest or Jet Blue. This is especially true on long haul (cross country) flights between major airports.

And when you absolutely have to check a bag...on international overseas flights where you'll be gone for a long time....the legacy carriers still let you do it for free. When you are travelling domestically, typically much closer to home for a shorter period of time...there is less of a liklihood that I'll absolutely need to check a bag...and there are other options as well.

Posted by: thetan | April 15, 2010 12:23 AM | Report abuse

The problem I have is with fees for BOTH carry-on baggage AND for checked baggage. You can choose whether to check or carry-on, but very few can choose to travel without any baggage at all. Actually, I'd prefer a fee to carry-on and none to check, Spirit is right that too many carry-ons make boarding and de-boarding a pain. But to charge for BOTH is just a gimmick to raise fares without raising fares.

Nonetheless, I DON'T think there should be a law. Let the market speak. I for one will NEVER fly an airline that charges for ALL baggage.

Posted by: jcflack1 | April 15, 2010 9:29 AM | Report abuse

I look forward to per pound fees for ticket. Base someones ticket based upon their weight.

Posted by: wpjunk | April 15, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

"Nonetheless, I DON'T think there should be a law. Let the market speak. I for one will NEVER fly an airline that charges for ALL baggage."

But what about when ALL the airlines start charging for ALL baggage. Who will you fly with then? Or will you just walk to your destination? This is just a way to raise fares without "raising fares". This law is trying to prevent that.

Posted by: UMDTerpsGirl | April 15, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

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