suitcase of money

Earlier today, New York Senator, Charles Schumer (D), called on the feds to put a stop to the newly imposed carry-on baggage fees instituted by Spirit Airlines.  In a letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Schumer is seeking to reverse a ruling that says carry-on luggage isn’t “reasonably necessary” and thus isn’t subject to federal taxes.  That means the airline can pocket all the cash from the fees without paying any taxes.

If you haven’t heard, Spirit Airlines, a low-cost carrier based in Florida, recently announced it will begin charging passengers as much as $45 for each piece of carry-on luggage.  The price is reduced to $30 if paid in advance online.  Members of its $9 Fare Club will only pay $20 for each carry-on bag.  There is no charge for small carry-on items like purses (and such) that can be stowed underneath the seat.  The carry-on bag fee is effective for reservations made after today for travel on or after August 1st.

Schumer told the New York Daily News that, “Peanuts may not be a necessity, but the ability to carry on a bag is.” He also said that if Geithner wouldn’t stop the fees, he would introduce legislation that would.  Since Spirit Airlines was the first to start charging for a second checked bag in 2005, Schumer is worried (along with the rest of us) that this new fee may inspire other airlines to follow suit.  Schumer wrote in his letter, “When one airline starts charging for a service that was previously standard, other airlines eventually do so too.”

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • Bloomberg News is reporting that Delta, American and other U.S. carriers are charging 13 percent more for the peak summer season as rising demand and fewer seats restore industry pricing power.  The average round-trip fare jumped to $471 from $415 a year earlier.  Prices may creep higher in the coming weeks if carriers add surcharges to cover mounting jet-fuel costs.
  • Now that airlines are charging for in-flight food, instead of minimizing cost on “complimentary” food service, they’re experimenting with offering higher quality, better tasting fare.  According to the New York Times, Air Canada has introduced healthy food options, like vegetarian sandwiches and yogurt parfaits, and Alaska Airlines has a new healthy snack pack.  American Airlines is working with Boston Market.  JetBlue is about to start selling food on select long-haul flights.  Some carriers are expected to offer combination meals and other promotions similar to those available at fast-food restaurants.