Congresswoman proposes bill to reduce, eliminate checked baggage fees

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Airline employees move luggage at the international counter the day following a major power outage caused by a fire at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia, December 18, 2017.
The world’s busiest airport in the US city of Atlanta was slowly resuming normal operations Monday after a power cut stranded thousands of passengers and unleashed a storm of criticism. / AFP PHOTO / TAMI CHAPPELL (Photo credit should read TAMI CHAPPELL/AFP via Getty Images)

MIAMI, Fla. (WJW) — Congress is considering limiting the fees that airlines can charge for baggage, as well as possibly eliminating them altogether, according to WPLG.

Most commercial airlines, except for Southwest Airlines which promotes that “bags fly free,” charge at least $25 per suitcase.  This has prompted many travelers to utilize carry-on luggage which is often less expensive than the cost of a checked bag or even free.

In an effort to make traveling more affordable, United States Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) has introduced legislation that, if passed, would require airlines to guarantee each traveler one free checked bag, as well as require air carriers to notify passengers of any fees before they arrive at the airport.

“I believe that when you purchase a ticket to fly anywhere, it should come with at least a seat, free water, access to a restroom, and at least one checked bag for free,” Sen. Landrieu told WPLG.

The Department of Homeland Security seems to support Sen. Landrieu’s efforts, saying that the increase in carry-on luggage due to high checked-baggage costs has burdened federal screeners. The department says the cost of security has increased by $270 million a year.

Meanwhile, airline industry experts say they’ve barely profited from luggage costs.

Sean Kennedy, a spokesperson for the Air Transport Association, argues that Congress should not be involved in this process.

“No one tells the hotel whether or not they should have free bottles of water or free wi-fi. No one tells a bus what services they should offer for free. Again, this should be up to the carrier or airline to decide what they want to charge and consumers should be able to decide who they think are the best options for them,” Kennedy reportedly said.

Even if the law passes, travel experts say consumers are not likely to save any money because eliminating baggage fees could result in higher taxes or more expensive tickets.

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