Traveling this summer? Get ready to shell out some more cash at the airport.
On Monday, Transportation Security Administration fee hikes went into effect, and they will have the greatest impact on travelers who make nonstop flights or have long layovers between flights.
Critics say the agency should call the fees what they really are: a tax hike.
“Any way you look at it, this is an increase in taxes,” said Charlie Leocha, chairman of the consumer group Travelers United.
The old fee had been $2.50 for a nonstop and $5 for a connecting flight. The maximum fee for a round trip was $10. The new security fee for all flights is $5.60. Any layover exceeding four hours counts as a separate flight.
For example, someone traveling from Atlanta to Denver, with a stop in Dallas on the way out and a stop in Chicago on the flight home, could be billed for four separate flights — $22.40 in TSA fees. The old fee: $10.
That may not sound like much if you’re a business traveler, said Chris McGinnis, a travel specialist. He blogs about business travel at TravelSkills.com.
“You just kind of grin and bear it,” he said.
Families, he said, are more likely to notice the fee changes when paying for multiple tickets.
Congress authorized the TSA hikes when it amended the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013. In a June memo, the TSA explained the hike:
“The revenue is to be used to offset TSA costs for providing civil aviation security services, after stipulated amounts are applied to reduction of the federal deficit.”
The fees, said Jean Medina, a spokesperson for Airlines for America, an airline advocacy group, “add insult to injury” for travelers and airlines.
Air passengers shouldn’t be saddled with fees that don’t enhance their travel experience, said Cathy Keefe, manager of media relations for the U.S. Travel Association, an industry group composed of travel-related businesses.
“The travel industry support fees that benefit passengers,” she said. “This is not benefiting passengers.”