April 14th, 2010
04:12 PM ET
4 years ago

Senators fight airlines over carry-on baggage fees

Sen. Chuck Schumer introduced a bill Wednesday that he says will rein in the airline industry.
Sen. Chuck Schumer introduced a bill Wednesday that he says will rein in the airline industry.

New York (CNNMoney.com) – Senate Democrats are taking aim at carry-on baggage fees after Spirit Airlines became the first U.S. carrier to propose charging passengers to store luggage in overhead bins.

On Wednesday, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, introduced a bill that would amend the tax code to eliminate a loophole that he and four other Senators say allows airlines to avoid taxes on certain fees.

"This latest fee crosses the line and is a slap in the face to travelers," Schumer said in a statement. "Our legislation will rein in the airlines and keep air travelers from being gouged every time they board a plane."

That effort comes one day after two other Senators put forward a bill that would change how the Federal Aviation Administration regulates carry-on baggage fees.

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Filed under: Charles Schumer
soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. Arlie

    Why should Congress be deciding how an airline wants to sell its services or not? If you don't like that airline's policies - fine, don't fly on that airline, and make sure you let them know.

    Interfering in normal (healthy) business is NOT the purpose of government. People will vote with their tickets and their money.

    April 14, 2010 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  2. shooter

    And the bill that Schumer is sponsoring to legallize illegal aliens is a heavier slap in a face to all Americans.

    April 14, 2010 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  3. John P.

    Stop trying to control everything! If I don't like their fees, I won't fly on their planes!

    April 14, 2010 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  4. Beverly - NYC

    Passenger who insist on bringing huge items to cram in the overhead can be blamed for this charge. I travel 4 to 6 times a year and constantly see passengers take advantage of the two bag limit. We all know one must fit under the seat, & one in the overhead. Instead these space hogs try to board first so they can take up the entire compartment, heaven forbid they have to wait for luggage at the carousel. I have witnessed people standing on a seat to cram stuffed suitcases, backpacks, and seabags,into the confined overhead space. Maybe if the charge is prohibitive enough people will stop bringing the kitchen sink as a carryon. You're not running away from home, it's a trip. Pack like a person. And Chuck we know you have a personal beef with stewardess who ask you to shut off your cell phone, should you be taking it out on an entire industry? How about spending some time regulating too big to fail?

    April 14, 2010 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  5. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    I'm with the airlines on this one. If you've ever departed a plane from some parts of our country you would think people are packed as if they are moving. Take a train or bus if you're moving.

    April 14, 2010 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  6. Stumpy

    The problem is not which fees, but that the airlines want to make the ticket prices appear lower by having them. The problem is not only that the fees annoy and alienate travellers, but they cause these bizarre responses like ridiculously huge carry-ons that severly slow deplaning.

    Southwest has no fees and happy customers. If the other airlines cannot realize this, then airlines like Southwest are going to run them out of business. This is not a congress issue; it is a malfunctioning business model issue.

    April 14, 2010 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  7. Greg

    What happened to competition and capitalism? I wouldn't fly on a company that charges carry on luggage and I will give my money to an airline that does not not charge for carry on. The weak will fail and the smart will survive. It is just how it works. Government intervention simply keeps the weak and poorly run companies going. The bigger question, to what expense?

    April 14, 2010 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  8. Brian from NJ

    @ BeverlyNC

    Go get your facts straight... Clinton, Robert Rubin and Phil Gramm deregulated the banks... not Bush. In fact Bush signed one of the most restrictive pieces of regulation in Wall St. History when he signed SOX. And the Insurance companies actually spent more on the Dems and were instantly rewarded with 30M new customers, complete with government funding...

    April 14, 2010 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  9. super crook

    Schumer interviewed this morning about this issue. The question was "is this an appropriate issue for federal government involvement?"
    His answer: "we regulate everything up here. Why not this?"

    Then why not regulate the illegal aliens entry into the USA after Reagan left office? Why open a path to citizenship for those Law Breakers now? Why no action was taken to secure USA territory for the last 25 years from the illegal invaders?

    April 14, 2010 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  10. a health economist

    Let them sink or swim with the fee. In fact I like it. I never bring carry ons, even when airlines started to have fees for checked baggage. This could actually benefit the airline. They will likely decrease ticket costs to attract travelers and off-set this new cost. With fewer carry ons (which are currently ridiculous because of the checked fees) people will get in and out quicker. Subsequently their arrival and departure times will be better and have fewer delays.

    Besides, if people don't like it they can fly another airline. If all airlines do it, people can drive. This is no different then when my garbage company added a "fuel surcharge" when the gas prices spiked two summers back. And by the way, those fuel surcharges didn't go away when gas prices started to drop.

    April 14, 2010 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  11. J A Radford

    I have not always been a strictly carry-on passenger. In the past when I was going on long trips or had very long layovers, I would check baggage as a convenience. Now, though, I always carry baggage on. I am the one who lugs the bag through the airports. I am the one who puts my bag in the overhead bin. I will not pay an airline for my work. They should not be allowed to charge for checked baggage in my opinion. Congress should address that also.

    April 14, 2010 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  12. Texas Traveler

    All of you that have no problem with baggage fees must not fly much. For those of us who find ourselves on a plane just about every single week as part of our job, the whole baggage situation IS a problem. For those of us who actually travel on vacations with 2-3 kids, again, baggage fees ARE a problem. Just because it doesn't affect you personally today doesn't mean it doesn't deserve being looked at. It affects a LOT of us a LOT.

    And I hadn't thought about it before, but if there is no tax on checked baggage fees, do you realize how many millions & millions of dollars the airlines are pocketing from those fees with no tax liability? Now I know why they don't want to "quit nickle & diming us to death" with all the miscellaneous "fees" versus rolling it into the ticket price. It's a flippin' gold mind for them!

    April 14, 2010 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  13. Phil

    There needs to be a fee on carry on baggage. Why? Because people bring in bags so huge that they can't even stow them in the overhead bins, and expect a 5ft tall stewardess to stow it for them. There are size limits for a reason – the health and safety of passengers and the employees. If an overhead space has a limit of 80lbs (which they do on most aircraft), three 50lb bags (the limit for carry on currently) will cause possible failure of the latch and injure those sitting under the compartment.

    Additionally, the cost of air fares has been driven down by the need to fill the seats, which airlines are doing. These ticket costs, compared to even 20 years ago, are far cheaper. When you can fly from Seattle to Sydney return for $900 (taxes included), you know things are cheap. I guess people won't be happy until they pay nothing for something.

    April 14, 2010 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  14. M-AZ

    "What happened to competition and capitalism? I wouldn't fly on a company that charges carry on luggage and I will give my money to an airline that does not not charge for carry on. The weak will fail and the smart will survive. It is just how it works. Government intervention simply keeps the weak and poorly run companies going. The bigger question, to what expense?"
    ***************************************************************************
    Greg,

    It is not that black and white...is this concept behind Walmart's monopoly that has run small businesses OUT of business? There has to be a way to help balance the system in favor of the consumer. Can you imagine the price of an airline ticket with only a few carriers in existence?

    April 14, 2010 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  15. JK Ashburn, VA

    Politicians are morons. If people don't like what Spirit is doing, they will stop flying on Spirit and Spirit will either change policy or go out of business. It's as simple as that. More government involvement is the last thing the airline industry needs - especially by this Congress.

    April 14, 2010 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  16. Schumer sucks

    Stop interfering with private industries practice. Airliner had its right to charge passenger by the pound to stop the abuse. If your carry-on is 40 pounds you should pay for that.

    April 14, 2010 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
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