Senate Introduces Legislation To Ban Carry-On Bag Fees Already Instituted By Spirit Airlines

Tyler Durden's picture

The experiment by Spirit airlines to have flyers pay not only for uncomfortable, crammed cabins but for the first piece of carry one baggage has been closely followed by the legacies and the LCCs, which have all been chomping at the bits to see if this proposal would fly. It appears that public outcry has been vocal enough that the practice is about to be banned. Two democratic senators have introduced legislation prohibiting airlines from charging fees for carry on baggage. It is now time to see if the airline lobby will stretch its wings and do everything in its power to make sure this proposal is killed in its tracks. Judging by how effective Congress and the Senate have been at allowing Wall Street to suicide itself once the next credit bubble implosion occurs, we wouldn't put too much confidence in this bill, especially if some Wall Street firm manages to get involved in the ongoing latest roll up round in the airline industry.

From Bloomberg:

Two Democratic U.S. senators introduced legislation that would ban airlines from charging fees for bags carried aboard planes one week after Spirit Airlines Inc. became the first carrier to announce a charge.

The legislation by Senators Benjamin Cardin of Maryland and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana would assure that items essential to people’s health, work and safety can be carried on board without extra fees, according to a statement today. The bill also would require advance notice of special fees for checked items, according to the statement.

“Only one airline has announced plans to charge for carry- on item fees, but we cannot allow these flood gates to open,” Landrieu said in the statement.

We are just curious when oxygen intake fees are slowly introduced first by airlines, and next by bankrupt municipalities.

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Mako's picture

Unless I absolutely have to fly I avoid the mess called airlines and airports... .what a cluster.

Mad Max's picture


For almost a decade I flew every couple of weeks.  Now I avoid it like the plague.

Almost Solvent's picture

Yes, but try Southwest if available.

No fees for any baggage, checked or otherwise.


Take my bags, not my money!

BlackBeard's picture

+1, Southwest is the bomb diggity.

Mission Stupid's picture

Southwest treats you like cattle and that is ok by me.  Its cheap and you know exactly what your going to get - unless of course you are Silent Bob!

BlackBeard's picture

Fucked up world when everything is legislated. Well, if they're going down this road, I'd implore our kind representatives to legislate 2-ply (at minimum) toilet paper in all public bathrooms.

Mad Max's picture

And no coarser than 200-grit either.  None of this 80-grit paint removing BS we're seeing more of.

Yes We Can. But Lets Not.'s picture

Who's your Nanny?

Obama's your Nanny.

JohnKing's picture

Let the market decide, not the gov't. If you don't like airlines rules, don't fly it.

BTW, all this usurping of privacy invasion parading as "airline security" could be dealt with very simply: let the pilots arm themselves. 

Mad Max's picture

This is great theory, but... in such a concentrated market with no realistic substitute for most people/most uses, a handful of players can effectively collude (actual contracting isn't necessary) and all institute the same horrible policy and deprive the customer of a realistic choice.

It would be completely different if there were 100 airlines to choose from, or if the typical flying route had viable alternatives (e.g. multiple train options, affordable private charters).

JohnKing's picture

I know that "customer complaint" sounds pretty weak when compared to a Fed takeover but last I checked, they are still pretty effective. If you really think this through, the charges are going to show up on tax bill anyway, they will have to fund the Dept. of baggage complaints, hire a czar, all that cool stuff, it ain't cheap, especially when Nanny Fed is doing the spending.

Dr Hackenbush's picture

normally I'd agree with you JK - however, the airline industry is the one of the most highly subsidized in history.  No free market to see here, please move along :)

JohnKing's picture

Yes, we have no normal today, may as well pile on with more nanny crap.

Village Idiot's picture

THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN - about baggage fees.

docj's picture

Oh goodie, more faux populist grandstanding from our elected betters - saving us from the scourge that is lousy customer service from our nation's airlines.  Is there nothing government can't, or shouldn't do???

Well, it's not like they have anything better to do - like pass a budget.

lizzy36's picture

WTF, is the senate doing getting involved in this.  Are people incapable of thinking for themselves or has mid-term election pandering just reached a new low?

Here is a suggestion if a POS airline, wants to charge an exuberant fee for a carry on bag, DON'T fly on that airline.

Problem solved.

scofflaw's picture

Because Article I of the constitution gives Congress the authority to regulate baggage fees.  Wash DC is just one big insane clown posse.

Postal's picture

Congress has any and all authority to do as it damn well pleases. Or did you miss that lecture at law school?


MsCreant's picture

Wow, while Rome (uh, I mean Greece) is burning, I can be assured my representatives are working hard on what matters. 

Just WOW!

G. Marx's picture


We have met the enemy and, know the rest.

percolator's picture

Few things upset me more when flying and I fly about 50K miles a year is all the carry-ons people bring.  Some of these bags are huge and you've got a lot of people bringing 3 carry-ons each, so all the overhead space is taken.

I was hoping this attempt to charge for carry-ons would take-off thus reducing at least the number of carry-ons people bring.

Reductio ad Absurdum's picture

I'm with you. People abuse the carry on system and should be forced to think harder about what they take with them. Of course, the biggest area of carry-on abuse is their American lard asses.

Spaceman Spiff's picture

Commerce Clause gone crazy.

percolator's picture

EDIT - Double post.

Dr. No's picture

I have wondered why the airlines dont charge by the pound.  Carry-ons, bags, and the passenger to get on a scale during check in and be paid cash back or charged extra based upon total weight.

Dr. No's picture

We have all been there: "Any bags to check?" 

-yes, two. 

"Sorry sir, bag one weighs 14kg and bag two weighs 22 kg.  You will have to pay extra for the bag two which exceeds the 2o kg limit, unless you are willing to unpack 2 kg of underware from bag two and place them into bag one while the customers behind you continue to wait..."

Reductio ad Absurdum's picture

The prudent have to bailout the foolish and the lean have to carry the fat. Just as the rich have to pay their "fair share" of taxes, so the fit and healthy have to assist the fat, lazy, and genetically deficient. This is how great civilizations thrive, right?

mwmolloy's picture

I would love to see an airline try to implement a "gross weight charge"!  ie.  charge for the combinded weight of the passenger and the luggage.  Its not a terrible idea.  I dont see why on earth the airlines have to allow any kilos for free.  I would prefer a system where by you pay a small amount for the ticket, say $100 and $10 per kilo. I often fly with about 30 kilos of equipment (for my business) and I would prefer to know how much this is going to cost me for budgeting, as i have to charge it out to clients.  sometimes the charge is nothing, but sometimes they come up with some outlandish number - in Paris CDG airport i was presented with a charge of EURO 700 for excess baggage.  (we negotiated it down to about 100).  

all that carry on luggage does create costs for the airline business - think of all that security scanning.

News just in: ryanair is going to allow as much luggage as you can carry if you put it in the hold of the airplane yourself!

sheeple's picture

Is the toilet fees next? I mean, I could stand the fact not to take on carry on, but when you gotta go you gotta go

nedwardkelly's picture

Ryanair has already proposed it. But so fucking what! They're a BUDGET AIRLINE. In other words, they'll charge the absolute minimum, in exchange you'll get the absolute minimum. If you want more than that, you'll pay for it!

Anyone that doesn't like it is free to fly with someone else. DB politicians should have more important things to worry about.

Blindweb's picture

I don't fly

I also don't visit bararic cities where they tase pregnant women (Seattle) or impose pseduo martial law (Pittsburg G20)

girl money's picture


SNL - Obama's Do Nothing Skit

Rome has been smoldering, and flames are starting to lick here and there, fed by the winds of Change.



whatsinaname's picture

Have you ever checked the graph for the percentage of Americans in jail and how that number has grown since 1971 (when the Fed went away from the gold standard) ? Check these graphs. ITS TRAGIC.,000_population_1925-2008.png

trav7777's picture


JFC, will SOMEONE please stop trying to freakin obfuscate??

Either that or surcharge by total weight.

nedwardkelly's picture

What a fucking joke. Spirit airlines is a budget airline... Good on them for making essentially everything a la carte. If you don't want to fly them, it's pretty simple. DONT.


curbyourrisk's picture

So.....this is more pressing than the fact that the IMFjust created a tax that will be levied against the US citizens.  The 10 increase of America's bailout of the world requirement put forth by the IMF is no where near as important as stopping carry on bag fees.  Hmmm....Which would cost us tax payers more money??  Carry on bag fees or a another $100 billion to bailout all the fuck-ups?



Hatshepsut7's picture

One simple question:

Why is everyone down on the airlines?

Please break the components of ticket pricing apart and see how little of the total price actually goes to the airline.  Just take a look at the list of taxes a passenger pays on a ticket:

U.S. Federal Segment Fee $ 3.60 (Per-segment fee applicable to flights within the continental United States.)

Passenger Facility Charge (PFC)
Variable fee based on airport for facilities improvement. A maximum of 4 charges per itinerary applies $   up to $ 4.50

September 11th Security Fee
(aka U.S. Passenger Civil Aviation Security Fee)

U.S. government-assessed fee of $2.50 per U.S. enplanement per ticketed journey for security costs not to exceed $5.00 one-way or $10.00 round-trip.

U.S. International Transportation (Arrival/Departure) Tax
Applies to all flights arriving in or departing from the United States, Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands. $ 16.10

U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Fee
Applies to all flights originating abroad, except Canada, and landing in the United States, Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands.  $5.00

U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Fee
Applies to international arrivals to the United States, Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands. $ 7.00

U.S. Customs User Fee
Applies to international arrivals from outside of the U.S. Customs territory. $ 5.00

International Taxes and Fees
Various foreign taxes, inspection fees, and security charges typically excluding airport departure taxes. (approx amount ) $ 250.00

Plus, your Booking Website may charge an Online Air Transaction Service Fees
On all Airfares a service fee of $( 26 -- depending on co) is charged per person for all passenger types. 

So if you fly for example from JFK to Mumbai (a roughly 15 hour non-stop one way flight),  you can find a ticket for as little as $ 800 at times (been there, done that), a third goes to fees and taxes.

For the heck of it, I just did an online search for such a round trip flight.

Cheap base fare I could find was $ 893. The taxes and fees on this ticket amount to $ 424  == 47% over and above the base price, for a total of $ 1317 for the round trip.

Or, to use a domestic example:

Newark to San Francisco, RT base price $ 243 plus $ 43 tax and fees (about 17%).

If you try put gas in your car and drive 2900 miles cross country, the gas alone will be 3 x

as much.... There is plenty of competition in the air, and fuel is expensive. The flying public imho is getting a fair deal.


Long story short:

I wish the Honorable Senators would spend their elected time in DC working on the

pressing and essential business that plagues our nation, not on cheap publicity stunts like bagagge fees.

DISCLOSURE: I have absolutely no affiliation with airlines.



43 Steelie's picture

The sad thing is that I think charging for carry-ons is a decent long as they don't charge for you to check-in a bag.

Sure it inconveniences the average passenger, but so do the massive delays that are caused by security as well as every god damn idiot that takes 5 minutes to put up and take down their carry on. Not to mention that a third of the time you get left without any overhead space meaning you have to check it at the gate anyways.

Business travelers would happily pay the extra $15-30 to carry-on. Leisure travelers..not so much.

AxiosAdv's picture

What a joke.  How is this a free country again?  They have the right to raise fees to whatever amount they want, and people have to right to choose another airline.

Rick Blaine's picture

This is all very, very simple.

The one and only truly fair way to handle all of this crap is right before you get on the plane, you and your baggage (carry-on and checked) are weighed together.

The more you and your baggage weigh, the more your ticket costs.  It's very easily justified, as the more you and your baggage weigh, the more fuel is used to get you from point A to point B.

Want a cheaper ticket?

Lose weight and/or pack lighter.

How doesn't that make sense?

Almost Solvent's picture

It makes too much sense.

Therefore, it will never happen.

mwmolloy's picture

Have a good look around you Rick, when did making sense have anything to do with anything? 

Mission Stupid's picture

Spirit should be able to charge whatever they want.  Let free (or at least almost free) markets decide if they made the right decision.

DaddyWarbucks's picture

Try this one on for size.
SF to Beijing,
airfare: $537
tax: $278

With that said, I feel that at least one small piece of luggage is implicitly paid for as part of an airline ticket. At the moment I'm just a bit sensitive about deceptive accounting (hello FASB 157, repo 105).

laughing_swordfish's picture

Simple solution to the "carry-on" problem.

Make checked luggage FREE but CHARGE for carry-ons -

If you've ever flown and seen people bringing steamer trunks and appliances on as "carry-on" luggage, you'll know what I mean. On my last flight on Southwest (LUV) I saw one fool bringing on a flat-screen TV in the box as "carry-on" luggage.

BTW, I don't see why everyone is down on Southwest - the baggage is free, as are the pop and peanuts. Sure, it isn't luxury, but as long as the plane is on time I don't care if I'm middle seat all the way in the back. And since I check everything, I don't care about the carry-on luggage, as long as it doesn't fall out of the bin and hit me on the head.


Just my 2c worth


KrvtKpt laughing swordfish

heading for new assignment shortly