For the past ten years the airlines have always loved the TSA and dismissed passenger complaints of abuse, molestation and theft as whining. Now that the TSA security has doubled and is affecting their profits, they are now crying foul. Any veteran traveler knows that TSA is not your friend, and is often your enemy but often overlooked the airlines culpability.
Savvy travelers have been critical of airlines but many frequent fliers ignored the shortcomings of their preferred airline in exchange for an infrequent upgrade or being allowed to queue three feet ahead of someone else. Now, the airlines have confirmed to all but the chronically stupid that they really don’t care that your child gets felt up by TSA as long as their bottom line isn’t reduced.
Trade Groups Allege That TSA Is Violating Federal Law in Introducing Fee Changes
The Wall Street Journal – Doug Cameron – July 30, 2014
A group of airlines on Wednesday sued the U.S. government over new passenger-ticket security fees following months of squabbling over charges that came into effect last week.
The Transportation Security Administration introduced a new set of fees that scrapped an existing cap on the levy in place since 2002, effectively doubling the charge on many new tickets and applying it to some flights starting overseas that previously weren’t subject to the fee. The fee on a basic domestic nonstop round-trip ticket rose to $11.20 from $5—a one-way trip will cost $5.60 instead of $2.50 per flight segment, while the $10 per-ticket cap was dropped.
Airlines in recent weeks had pushed the TSA to delay implementing the changes until August, citing the need to make changes to their booking systems, and warning it would inflate costs and curtail demand. The TSA rejected the calls, according to regulatory filings, and on Wednesday the U.S.-based Airlines for America and the International Air Transport Association took their challenge to court in an eight-page petition to the District of Columbia appeals court that called for a review of the changes.
The two trade groups alleged that the TSA is violating federal law in introducing the changes, asserting lawmakers didn’t intend for the new structure to include ending the fee cap on security fees or collecting taxes for trips that originate overseas. The TSA declined to comment because litigation was pending, but previously maintained it was following December’s Budget Control Act statute that paved the way for the new fees, according to regulatory filings.
The airlines’ lawsuit alleged that the TSA failed to follow statute and was making an attempt to “conjure up even more fees”. The TSA increase, which won’t apply retroactively to tickets sold before July 21, should raise an additional $12.6 billion over 10 years, according to the Department of Homeland Security plan published in the Federal Register.
Congress voted to send much of the increase to the general fund, not the TSA, to help reduce the federal deficit. For example, the increase will generate an additional $322 million in the remainder of 2014, according to Homeland Security. Of that, $122 million will go to the TSA and $200 million will contribute to federal deficit reduction.
With the fee increase, Congress also voted to eliminate the $420 million in annual aviation security fees that had been imposed on airlines after the 2001 terrorist attacks. The airlines’ lawsuit alleged carriers would incur “significant injury” because of the TSA’s proposed final rule.
U.S. airlines have been generating record profits in recent months. Ben Baldanza, a longtime critic of transport-fee policy and chief executive of discounter Spirit Airlines Inc., told analysts that industry conditions were “terrific,” citing capacity discipline among carriers and robust demand.
—Scott McCartney contributed to this article.