Oberstar: Airlines are robbing passengers, shouldn’t the government get a cut?


Should the government get a cut of the airlines’ revenue? That’s the latest question being explored in the U.S. House Transportation Committee.

The Committee’s chairman, Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn, asked the Government Accountability Office to investigate whether or not a portion of airline ticket surcharge profits should be paid out to the government.

The charges in question include additional fees for checked baggage, meals, seat selection, ticket cancellations and fuel surcharges.

According to government statistics, airlines collected $1.1 billion in fees for “excess” baggage in fiscal year 2008, and $400 million in ticket-cancellation fees in the first quarter of fiscal 2009. According to CNN, Oberstar said the fees are “excessive” and “might be diverting funds from the federal Airport and Airway Trust Fund, which finances airport expansion and repairs.”

Most major airlines charge anywhere from $15-$20 for each bag on a one-way flight. Currently, Southwest Airlines is the only major carrier not to charge checked-bag fees.