The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Features

October 22, 2012

As airlines raise fees instead of fares, taxpayers pick up tab

WASHINGTON — For those who fly, the squeeze has become the way to beat the system.

"We take the maximum amount on board and squeeze it in," said Susan Williams, explaining how she and and her family avoid baggage fees on flights from Reagan National Airport.

The art of the squeeze is a matter of measurements. When Ross Davis flew to San Francisco last week he paid $25 to check his larger bag but squeezed his other bag, five inches smaller, into the overhead compartment.

American taxpayers are feeling the squeeze, too, even those who never board an airplane.

When the major airlines began charging fees for baggage a few years ago, the rationale they announced was straightforward: Fuel prices had spiked dramatically. Rather than increase ticket prices just as dramatically, airlines would charge for baggage.

Since then, they have collected $12.8 billion for something that once was free.

That has allowed the major airlines — called the legacy carriers — to keep their ticket prices competitive with low-cost airlines.

For taxpayers, however, here is the catch:

There's a 7.5 percent federal tax on every airline ticket. The money goes into a fund that pays for the air transportation system: airports, capital improvements and the operation of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

But in nine of the past 11 years, the amount of money flowing into that fund — mostly ticket-tax revenues — has fallen short of projections. When that happens, Congress can increase general fund contributions to cover the FAA's budget. In both fiscal 2009 and 2010, Congress appropriated an additional amount of almost $1 billion.

When the airlines kept ticket prices down by shifting $12.8 billion to baggage fees, they also saved almost $964 million in federal taxes they would have owed if they had hiked ticket prices by that amount.

Was it a windfall, or was it salvation for a beleaguered industry?

Text Only
Features
  • Uwharrie Players No. 1 Anyone know whodunit?

    So whodunit?
    Forget Col. Mustard, the library and the candlestick, this time it was the drama student in the Jesse F. Niven Center with the bottle of poison.
    At this year’s Uwharrie Players Drama Camp, campers took the stage not just to act, but to figure out who poisoned Gladdis, the talent scout.

    July 21, 2014 3 Photos

  • Kudzu Quiche A Bonus in Study of Invasive Species

    High School students who chose to study invasive species during their week at the National Environmental Summit at Catawba College probably didn't think they'd be baking a kudzu quiche. But they did, and they served it, along with other kudzu creations, at the final festival.

    July 19, 2014

  • Pottery No. 1 Wheel of Clay

    Rome wasn’t built in a day and a potter wasn’t made in one either, Seagrove potter Sid Luck, 69, said at his pottery class at the Niven’s Center Tuesday.

    July 15, 2014 3 Photos

  • Archie Smith Psaltery Sounds

    About two years ago, Archie Smith got into an argument with his table saw.
    As he says, the table saw won.

    June 30, 2014 3 Photos

  • P1160049_zps0528ec83.jpg Jammin' at Junior's

    Benjamin Franklin once wrote: “ … in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” If Franklin was alive today in western Stanly County, he would need to amend his statement to include “and Friday night jam sessions at Junior Harris’.”

    June 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • KelliePickler_TheWomanIAm_LPCover.png Kellie Pickler set to release album with limited edition vinyl pressing

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Black River Entertainment announced the release of a limited edition vinyl version of country music singer/songwriter Kellie Pickler’s critically-acclaimed current album, The Woman I Am.  This is the first vinyl album for Kellie Pickler, and it features exclusive cover art, different from the CD version.

    June 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • wedding (12 of 21).tif Fairy Tales Can Come True

    Once upon a time in Stanfield a little girl was born, but experienced problems during her delivery. Five years earlier, a little boy was born in Georgia with similar complications. Both suffered a brain bleed during child birth and had ventricular shunts placed in their heads.

    June 16, 2014 3 Photos

  • Social networks are the new matchmakers

    WASHINGTON - With studies showing that one-third of married couples started their relationships online, finding romance via URLs is no longer as novel - and creepy - as it seemed when dating sites launched in the mid-1990s.

    June 9, 2014

  • Dive into the World’s Most Diverse Marine Ecosystem when Journey to the South Pacific Arrives at Discovery Place on June 7

    CHARLOTTE – Audiences will be taken on an epic IMAX® adventure through the tropical islands of West Papua and experience one of the most extraordinary places on Earth, when the IMAX film Journey to the South Pacific comes to Discovery Place on June 7.

    June 6, 2014

  • iphone4.jpg Five major new features in iOS 8

    Apple has taken the wraps off its latest mobile operating system, iOS 8, introducing a suite of new features to users aimed at streamlining some of their most annoying daily tasks.

    June 6, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Featured Comment
Twitter Updates
Seasonal Content
Poll

Will you participate in March Madness?

Yes I watch the games and complete a bracket.
Yes I complete a bracket.
No
     View Results