Congress looks at raising airline passenger fees once again


During the budget negotiations last year that produced a two-year budget deal, airline passengers were slapped with more than a doubling of TSA Security fees for many fliers. Now, in a new bill working its way through Congress, airline passengers are facing a 30 percent increase in the immigration user fee paid by airline passengers on international flights to the United States as part of the FY 2014 omnibus appropriations package.

The proposed hike would increase that fee from $7 to $9. Enough is enough. Beginning in July, the more-than-doubled Transportation Security Administration (TSA) passenger security tax will end up costing airline passengers $1 billion annually. That tax (Congress calls it a fee) jumps from $2.50 per flight segment to $5.60 per one-way trip, and much of the revenue generated from the higher fee will be used to reduce the federal deficit, not enhance security. (This coming July the security fee was increased from the current $2.50 per segment fee that was capped at $5 per flight.)

This is patently unfair. Drivers, train passengers and bus passengers crossing back and forth between Canada and the US or between Mexico and the US, are not faced with any such fees. Why should airline passengers be singled out?

Worse, when the economy is in a shambles and unemployment is stubbornly high, why would Congress begin to tax the very industries that foment economic growth and job creation? Why pick on airline passengers? This is a lose-lose solution to balancing the budget. We are discouraging airline travel and discouraging the economic power generated by travelers that spreads itself through the economy via spending at hotels, for rental cars, at airports, in restaurants and hundreds of local businesses.

We used to joke (now it is often a reality) that taxes and fees on rental cars can end up costing more than the rental car charge. Now, airline tickets with the addition of more congressionally mandated fees is creeping into the same price/fees and taxes imbalance. When consumers end up paying more taxes to fly home to visit Mom and Dad than they do to purchase cigarettes and booze, something is wrong.

The Consumer Travel Alliance, urges all members of Congress to oppose raising the immigration fee. We are already paying more than our fair share.

These bill proposals are working their way through Congress. This would be a good time to contact your Representatives and Senators to let them know you think adding more taxes to travelers is counterproductive. We are more than doing our share to support the economy.

Click through to the Consumer Travel Alliance resource pages for links to find your congressperson.