A Fee Increase To Avoid A Shutdown
Back In December of last year during one of the many budget fights of the past few years, Paul Ryan & Patty Murray reached an agreement to avoid a government shutdown. One of the provisions of that deal was an increase to the Aviation Passenger Security Fee also known as the 911 Security Fee to raise an additional $12.6 billion over 10 years. (Source: DHS)
That increase was supposed to originally go into effect starting July 1, 2014, but a slight delay has pushed it back to July 21, 2014. All tickets sold on or after that day will have a one-way security fee of $5.60. This equates to $11.20 for a round-trip ticket.
The Fee More Than Doubles On Nonstop Flights
Previously a nonstop flight was taxed $2.50 each way for a total of $5 round-trip. A flight which had more than one segment was $5 each way or $10 round-trip. This increase in the tax more than doubles what we are currently paying for nonstop flights.
One of the other major changes is in the treatment of international flights. Previously, flights arriving in the country with an onward connection (i.e. London-New York-Minneapolis) wouldn’t have to pay the fee. Now the domestic segment (in my example New York-Minneapolis) would incur the $5.60 charge.
An End To The Cap
The original legislation that created this fee back in 2002 imposed a $10 cap per ticket. This meant that itineraries with stopovers wouldn’t incur any additional charge. Unfortunately the legislation passed back in December fails to mention anything about a cap. The TSA has stated that itineraries with stopovers will be charged the fee for each segment. In reality this could be a huge increase over the old rates.
There is a big controversy over the removal of the cap. Apparently several members of Congress have come out and stated that the removal of the cap was an oversight. They are currently asking the Obama administration to reinstate it. We will see if that happens.
Possibly More Increases To Come
According to the Wall Street Journal, these fee increases may just be the first in a long line. Apparently airports are lobbying to raise the facility fee, which is the per passenger charge that airports levy. Currently the maximum is $4.50 and they are looking to increase it to $8.
Customs & Border Patrol is also seeking an fee increase. Currently the immigration fee for international tickets is $7. They are seeking a $2 increase to bring the fee to $9.
Book before The New Fee Goes Into Effect
In regards to the upcoming 911 Security Fee increase, there is a small tidbit of good. All tickets sold through July 20, 2014 will have the old fee structure no matter what the date of travel is. Unfortunately starting on July 21, 2014 all tickets will be sold with the higher fees.
The reason I am writing this on July 5 is that I want to make sure to remind everyone to save a few dollars by booking your upcoming flights before July 21. I know that I have a number of flights that I will be booking before the increased fees go into effect.
I think this was a sloppy way to go about raising additional funds. Not only are the fees going to more than double in some cases, but multi-stop itineraries can see a huge increase. Unfortunately this increase was passed rather hastily it seems.
It is also important to remember that this increase isn’t to change the way security is handled or to enhance security in any way. It is simply to raise additional funds to cover the costs to run the TSA. Perhaps an increase is needed, but I feel it should have been handled as a standalone issue. With that said, there is nothing that we can do now other than book before the increase goes into effect.
What do you think of the fee hikes? Do you think they could go about it a different way? Will you travel less now that taxes are going up? Should the per ticket cap be reinstated? Let me know in the comments!