Senators Ask Airlines to Drop Baggage Fees for Summer, Hope to Reduce Wait Times

By Andrew Simontacchi
Andrew Simontacchi
Andrew Simontacchi
May 11, 2016 Updated: May 11, 2016

Long airport security lines is one of the biggest downsides to heading away on a nice vacation. Two United States senators believe ridding luggage fees will cut down on security wait times, which airports advise can take as long as two hours prior to catching flights.

Massachusetts Sen. Edward Markey and Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, both Democrats, asked executives from 12 airlines on May 10 to remove the baggage fee for the summer—and “put passengers before profits.”

The 12 airlines contacted are: 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.

Blumenthal said the result of charging fees for check-in baggage means 27 percent more carry-on bags—as people avoid checking bags in. Carry-on luggage requires extra screening, slowing the overall screening process, creating longer lines, and longer wait times. 

“We write in the wake of reports of staggeringly-long lines expected this summer at Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening checkpoints in airports across the country,” the senators wrote in a statement. 

“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. 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 senators advised executives to take action right away, “One simple solution…well within your companies’ control: suspend bag fees for the summer,” before pleading with the agencies to “not stand idly as travelers stand in endless lines.”

TSA Screening Debacle 

In other airport news, the TSA has recently come under fire for its handling of long lines during the security screening process. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey issued a letter, according to ABC, stating that if the agency doesn’t get passengers through security more quickly at the John F. Kennedy, LaGuardia, and Newark-Liberty airports, it will seek an outside securities company to handle it.

“We can no longer tolerate the continuing inadequacy of TSA passenger screening services,” the letter said. “Long waits are prompting complaints from passengers, terminal operators, and airlines alike.”

Andrew Simontacchi
Andrew Simontacchi