It seems as though traveling is becoming more and more of a luxury. Not only are international tensions leading to stricter travel restrictions worldwide, but even domestic methods of travel are more expensive than ever. Of particular note is the issue of airline travel. It used to be that a roundtrip ticket was a fairly affordable and efficient way to get a vacation or family visit in over a weekend. Naturally, inflation and the economy have resulted in some rising costs, but there is another reason: the ongoing trend of fees for anything and everything associated with flying. As has become common with many other businesses that can get away with it, airlines have been charging fees for many of their operations. At first, this was an acceptable measure to cover the cost of additional services rendered. However, what were once services included with flying on an airline have been made into excuses to gouge travelers for additional fees. And this trend is nowhere near stopping.
Recently, a fee increase for airplane flights was approved by a Senate committee. Nearly doubling from $4.50 to $8.50, the Passenger Facility Charge (which airlines can charge you 2 to 4 times, depending on if your ticket is one-way or round-trip) is getting quite a hike. This fee ostensibly serves to fund infrastructure improvements to airlines, paying for vital pieces of infrastructure that airports require to function. An increase to this fee would certainly help to meet presidential goals concerning general improvements to infrastructure. However, that is my main concern with fees such as this: if it is to functionally be a tax, why are we as a country not moving to tax the airlines that use this infrastructure to turn a profit? Surely the air travel business is not hurting so much as to not be able to pay to maintain its airports. Why should those that wish to travel finance these businesses even more than they do now? Interestingly, the proposal has some resistance even among airlines. Naturally, if fees go up, they can likely expect a drop in business that may not be offset by whatever amount of money that could be expected from the fee’s increase. Unfortunately, it seems to be the case that the majority of those in charge are in favor of increasing airline travel fees – bad news for airlines, and worse news for passengers.
This isn’t the first time that new fees have been proposed in order to pay for airline services. Earlier this year, President Trump suggested that as part of his new budget plan, the cost of operating the TSA should be covered mainly by fees charged to those using their services, i.e. airline travelers. This was meant with considerable resistance, understandably. The fee that was intended for this exact purpose had already been raised significantly, and it now stood to keep increasing. Just as with the proposed fee increase, both traveling consumers and airlines opposed this fee increase, as it would most likely ultimately result in more expensive travel and less revenue for airliners simultaneously.