Senators Tell Airlines: Drop Checked Bag Fees To Speed Up Airport Security

Image courtesy of frankieleon

With most airlines now charging for checked bags, passengers frequently travel with rolling suitcases that push the limits of the term “carry-on.” Would getting rid of these fees (and the bulkier carry-on bags) alleviate the increasingly long wait times at airport security? Yes, at least according to two lawmakers.

Senators Richard Blumenthal (CT) and Edward Markey (MA) called on 12 major airlines Tuesday to drop their checked bag fees for the summer in order to alleviate long lines at Transportation Security Administration checkpoints.

The lawmakers contend in the letter — sent to American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Allegiant, JetBlue, Alaska Air, Hawaiian Airlines, Virgin America, Sun Country, and Island Air Hawaii — that by charging checked bag fees, airlines are contributing to backups at security.

In fact, they say the TSA estimates that checkpoints serving carriers that charge baggage fees see 27% more roller bags than checkpoints serving carriers that do not charge such fees.

“We call on airlines to take a smart, common sense step to help thwart this growing problem: stop charging checked bag fees during the coming summer months, the busiest travel season of the year,” the lawmakers wrote to the airlines. “Without charges for checking their bags, passengers will be far less likely to carry them on, which snarls screening checkpoints and slows the inspection process.”

The lawmakers’ suggestion comes after the fight over long lines at security checkpoints has heated up ahead of the busy summer travel season.

Airlines and airline industry groups have put the Transportation Security Administration on blast for the kind of “unacceptable” long wait times.

Airlines for America launched the “I Hate the Wait” initiative earlier this week, asking travelers to snap photos of interminably long, seemingly unending lines at screening checkpoints and post them to Instagram, tagging @TSA in the process.

Yesterday, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey threatened to hire its own security staff to replace Transportation Security Administration screeners unless something is done to combat excessive wait times.

TSA, which previously promised it would to employ a number of measures to cut down on those excessive wait times, said it was doing the best it could and would address the Port Authority’s concerns directly.

Measures TSA said it would implement include increasing staff at checkpoints and asking Congress for more money to pay for security officers’ overtime as well as cover “critical short-term needs.”

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