A House Divided

May 18, 2015
A couple of items recently caught our eye regarding the often-times acrimonious relationships between airline and airport and passenger and airline.

Have you been following the debate over the controversial Passenger Facility Charge? The proposal would give airports a fee of up to $4.50 for each airline passenger. Why? Airport organizations, such as AAAE and ACI-NA, figure airports will need almost $76 billion to make improvements to airport infrastructure through just the next five years.

No surprise though that the airline industry, most notably voiced by the A4A, take a decidedly dim view on this “airport tax.” The funding is a “crisis of invented proportions,” says A4A. The group adds airports have plenty of funding resources to pay for capital improvements, ranging from billions in government taxes to the bond market.

Most recently, however, ACI-NA and AAAE took their case directly to Congress. Airports, they said, are “eager to address the needs of the communities we serve … In contrast, airlines … are more concerned about the next financial report … “

Besides, that PFC of $4.50 is nothing compared to those billions in baggage fees racked up tax-free by the airlines that go straight to the bottom line.

With friends like these, huh?


Baggage fees are as good as any segue to talk about the thing that passengers hate the most: Waiting patiently behind a bunch of others who think nothing of cramming items just short of a refrigerator into the overhead bins (because we know you wouldn’t be guilty of this.)

Of course, this cram session has only gotten worse ever since most airlines started charging for checked luggage. But the answer isn’t letting passengers check as many bas as they want for free. After all, bag fees are “fair” if for no other reason than fuel, despite recent dips in price, remains a huge part of an airline’s operation cost.

Paying for the fuel makes sense. And we recently read that a better solution would be to charge passengers based on the weight of all the bags – checked and carry-on – they take on their travels.

Since passengers don’t have to pay for the weight of carry-ons, they lack any incentive to pack any less. A few extra pairs of shoes or bunch of books drive fuel costs for everyone on the plane. Decouple the cost of tickets from the cost of bags and charge accordingly.

On a personal note, this is my last Editor’s Note. I’ve enjoyed covering the industry for nearly four years. While I don’t know who will take my spot, I do know that readers remain in good hands since I leave behind Missy Zingsheim, surely the most dedicated publisher I’ve worked with.