Lawsuit Filed Against TSA Over Higher Fees

H ave you noticed that the cost of your airline tickets became just a little bit higher?

Two commercial airline industry groups — Airlines for America and the International Air Transport Association, which represent airlines based in the United States and other countries around the world respectively — sued the Transportation Security Administration yesterday under the allegation that the higher fees which passengers must now pay violated federal law.

“TSA is overstepping its bounds,” said Nicholas E. Calio, who is the president and chief executive officer of Airlines for America. “Ignoring the per-passenger cap and increasing taxes by as much as 236 percent on air travelers is an affront to the flying public and ignores Congressional intent. Air travelers are not an ATM for the government and should not be treated as such.”

This increase is mandated as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, which restructured the fee limitation from up to $2.50 per leg of a connecting flight — which was capped at $5.00 per one-way trip — to a flat $5.60 per one-way trip.

However — as I wrote in this article posted on July 20, 2014 — at first glance, you might be thinking that you can tack on as many legs of a trip as you want and simply pay the $5.60, which is only 60 cents more than the former limit; but that depends on your itinerary. According to page 33465 of this document, the Transportation Security Administration uses the example of Juneau to Anchorage with a stopover of ten hours; Anchorage to Seattle with a stopover of ten hours; Seattle to Chicago with a stopover of ten hours; and Chicago to New York. With that itinerary, you would have paid a fee of $10.00 for four one-way trips before the fee increase; but now you could pay as much as $22.40 under the current fees — depending on the definition of a stopover.

Outraged members of such Internet bulletin boards as Milepoint and FlyerTalk find the fees “ridiculous” — and so do I. What are we getting in return for paying these fees?

“If what TSAPressSec says is correct, TSA is NOT really getting any more money”, explained FlyerTalk member rjpjr. “Instead, Congress has reduced the deficit by having TSA act as a proxy tax collector. It is unfortunate that FTer’s seem to want to take this out on the TSA, regardless of the definition of one-way. It seems to me that Congress would be just as happy to charge $10 OW if they could hold up the extra dollars as deficit reduction but hide it in a TSA mandate.”

FlyerTalk member GUWonder countered that “It’s the TSA that manufactured the newly-contrived redefinition of what is a one-way trip and what is a roundtrip in order to tax US passengers way more than was explicit in the law which Congress passed, the President didn’t veto, and the TSA exploited — at the consumers’ expense.”

That argument is part of the basis for the lawsuit, which was filed by the two airline groups in the United States Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C.

Do you believe that the Transportation Security Administration overstepped its boundaries in order to seize “this opportunity for a revenue windfall” — or is that federal agency simply following the law as mandated by the Congress of the United States?

Source: Airlines for America.

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