April 14th, 2010
05:33 PM ET

Senators fight airlines over carry-on baggage fees

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. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., 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.

All the legislators were motivated by Spirit Airlines announcing a plan to charge passengers up to $45 to stow luggage in overhead bins, making it the first airline to charge for carry-on bags.

Spirit argues that the fee, which applies to flights booked for Aug. 1 or later, is part of a strategy to make boarding an aircraft faster and easier. The low-cost airline, which has advertised 1 cent ticket prices on some short-haul routes, said it plans to offset the increase by reducing fees for checked luggage and some fares.

Read the full CNNMoney.com story

soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Bill Loeffler

    Government needs to stay out of this. Spirit has the rite to charge whatever they want.
    People are intelligent enough to add the price of a ticket to the price of a carry on.

    April 14, 2010 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • MommaMia

      "Spirit has the rite to charge whatever they want.
      People are intelligent enough to add the price of a ticket to the price of a carry on."

      Apparently not intelligent enough to spell correctly, though.

      June 17, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • nav

      gentlemen like you should be charging your kids for their food, then i would love to pay airlines even to turn on air vent.

      July 1, 2010 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
  2. Daniel Coleman

    What has happened to our free market country? The government will save us once again! This is the way our elected officials think we want them to represent us?

    April 14, 2010 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • nav

      all those who dont want government intervention should talk about raising privately corporat run US military and Police force, why do we need government to police ourselves? why do we have to trust government to spend our tax money... lets pay service charges for private Police force and Private military so that we can live tax free. By the way why do we even have to have government lets give it to Fox Realtors to take care of it for a nominal fee.

      July 1, 2010 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
  3. Raymond Hovsepian

    What free market? All airline companies have divided up the entire country neatly into fiefdoms they call "hubs." Try flying into Miami in an airline other than American or into Atlanta in an airline other than Delta. Come on. These airlines took millions of our tax dollars through loopholes. They all cried after 9/11 and we felt sorry for them. Now it's almost 9 years later and we need to ask them to cut their waste or sink.

    April 15, 2010 at 1:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Ben

      You do have alternatives to flying. Take the bus, take the train, drive, ride your bicycle. Life is about choices and, if you chose to fly, then you will need to pay what your chosen airline charges. Your choice.

      June 17, 2010 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  4. kevin

    We have problems with providing health care for everyone in the United States, but when a free market company wants to charge for carry-on bags, lawmakers want to intervene? If you do not like the extra fees, do not fly Spirit. Plain and simple.

    Go focus on unemployment and the war instead.

    April 15, 2010 at 3:15 am | Report abuse |
  5. Frank Drake

    Airlines are not part of the free economy – through their hub structures and designated routes they have created an oligopoly and government should step in.

    The problem for travelers is that there is no other choice of travel in the vast country. We rely on airlines for business and with most airlines following suit with each other on fees, it leaves very little freedom of choice for the traveler.

    Business travelers pay these fees in order to keep their business operating. Thus airlines continue to charge and take advantage of the travelers. Government should step in and control this oligopoly.

    April 15, 2010 at 8:37 am | Report abuse |
  6. al

    Even though I am a firm believer in free markets, you have to
    see this airline carry on charge in a different light.
    If Spirit airlines gets away with this without pressure from
    either the government or customer boycotts, the other
    airlines will follow suit. The airlines would sell their mother if
    they could and sometimes making a stand is the only way to
    reverse over the top actions like this. If the public boycotts Spirit
    Airlines now I feel they will cancel this charge if their business
    suffers as a result. But if the public doesn't boycott, the government
    needs to do something because this is the breaking point where
    airlines now become able to do anything they want.

    April 16, 2010 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
  7. dave

    Even if you believe like I do that companies should be free to charge
    whatever they like because ultimately the market will sort it out, this
    case is different.

    The government is justified in getting involved here because mean
    Spirit airlines is MISLEADING the public with their reasons for
    this charge, which to me is fraudulent. Spirit's CEO is using excuses about
    security and convenience. Spirit thinks that in this way they can manipulate some of the less educated people that will believe it to be some sort
    of a tax on their carry-on, and therefore accept the charge as part
    of the cost of flying. So Spirit is using false advertising here. They
    use the line "travel with less and save money". Any competent person
    knows that if you get charged for BOTH check ins AND carry ons, you have NO
    choice unless you like to go on vacation without changing your
    clothes.

    There are situations where the government has to control airline
    manipulation like when they quote the fuel surcharges as part of the
    taxes, never take away these surcharges when fuel prices drop and
    now use excuses to charge for carry ons.

    This is now the breaking point because we know the other airlines
    will follow if a stand is not taken by the public and the government.

    Support the legislation and boycott airlines that do this.

    April 16, 2010 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
  8. Alan

    I think it would be very easy to let market forces work by legislating precisely what the advertised fare is. The quoted fare should include all the fees, taxes and add ons for a typical passenger with one one carry on and one piece of stored luggage. That way if Spirit wants to charge $45 or $450 for a carry on, it would be reflected in the quoted fare and the consumer would be able to make a fair comparison with other airlines. Spirit could then deduct $45 from the ticket price if a passenger chooses not to travel with carry on luggage.

    Simple!

    April 18, 2010 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  9. Dave

    If it's because of the tax airlines are made to pay on just certain fees, changed the law to encompass ALL fees. Now, Airlines, help us all out and come up with some rules for what's being allowed on flights. In all my years of flying, I can't ever recall seeing that metal-frame luggage gauge used to see if something was too big. And I have yet to see a flight attendant speak up to enforce the "one item in the overhead" rule. I've missed connections because the 1st flight being delayed due to too many oversized bags being permitted past the gate agent. It would be great if the airlines standardized their policies and placed people in the TSA area so oversized bags didn't even get past security. And have the onboard employees insist on the "1 item in the overhead and the smaller, personal item under the seat". There's room if their own rules are followed. Why should flights be delayed because their own rules aren't enforced?

    June 10, 2010 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Suzanne

    Charge for carry-on but NOT checked! That's the only way to speed up and 'uncrowd' the boarding and deplaning process. It's SO simple, why aren't they fighting for this?!

    June 17, 2010 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Harlon Katz

      They do not want to force too many people to check luggage, because the weekly business traveler, the bread-and-butter of the airlines, will not put up with waiting for 1/2hr to hr after the plane lands to get their luggage. This is the same reason those people get to board first and get a spot in the overheads, they keep the airlines afloat.

      July 2, 2010 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ben

    Let the free market determine the price. Companies who provide a service can charge what the market will bear. If you don't like the price, take another form of transportation.
    And while we are at it, let the sports teams buy their own stadiums and get that burden off of taxpayers.
    And let trucks pay their far share of the wear and tear they cause to highways and bridges. Trains are much more efficient and they own and maintain their own right of way.

    June 17, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ben

      For got to add that airplane owners, commercial and private should pay for their own airports and air traffic control. Then we can determine the actual cost of a flight. Now that cost is hidden and tax payers are subsidizing air travel.

      June 17, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  12. mad

    I think that it is disgusting. It is crazy to charge for a carry on and I plan on boycotting any airline that pulls this – it is bad enough to pay to check a bag and has made travelling almost unaffordable for a family of 4 to go anywhere. I am tired of being nickled and dimed to death!

    July 1, 2010 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Inked

    It's not logical to assume we live in a free market when all our senators accept money from various companies when they need publicity funding. Just because someone stepped up to stop airlines from charging a foot and a leg doesn't mean we're flying straight into a pink commie nightmare that would occupy Stalin's mind as a wet dream.

    Chill out – if people weren't regulating other things – such as the proper plane maintenance we would have a lot more to worry about than bag fees.

    July 2, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  14. The Ture Lord Osiris

    This is just another reason to support your local Community/Small Business airports.
    You will actually pay a bit more for a ticket on a smaller plane with no extras(unless you bring thrm yourself)
    But you skip the lines/hassles/unwillingness of the large airlines to fix problems/lost luggage/hidden-gotcha fees...ect...to the large airlines you are just paying cattle.
    I fly from a local airport to Florida for 650$...we have to stop for fuel 1 time...but I still get to my destenation faster than using a cattlemoving airline.
    Check your options

    July 24, 2010 at 5:29 am | Report abuse |
  15. Doc

    If the "fee...is part of a strategy to make boarding an aircraft faster and easier" then perhaps airlines should not charge for checking in bags. That way people will check in their bags and not add extra time to finding an overhead bin for their bags.

    July 24, 2010 at 8:30 am | Report abuse |