April 13, 2010

CARDIN, LANDRIEU INTRODUCE BILL TO PROHIBIT AIRLINES FROM CHARGING FOR CARRY-ON BAGS

Free of Fees for Carry-On Act

Washington, DC - U.S. Senators Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA) have introduced a bill (S. 3195) that would effectively prohibit airlines from charging fees for carry-on luggage. It also would require advanced disclosure of special, often higher fees for specialty checked items. The bill is based on an amendment the two senators proposed last month to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization bill that was blocked by the minority from being accepted into the Manager's Amendment.

 

" Unlike heavy suitcases, that belong down in an aircraft's hold, carry-on luggage is where people keep items essential to their health, work, and safety like laptop computers, medications, food to eat on the plane, baby formula, eye glasses and other essentials that need to be kept close at hand. Carry-on items are important for the safety and health of the air travelling public.   These are personal items that airline passengers should not be charged to keep with them in the cabin," said Senator Cardin.

 

 "Last month, on the floor of the Senate, I said that while 'it may seem improbable now that airlines would charge passengers for carry-on luggage, we cannot rule out that these fees could never come about in the future.' That day in the future came sooner than most of us expected.   I understand that at this point only one airline has announced plans to charge for carry-on item fees, but we cannot allow these flood gates to open."

 

The Cardin-Landrieu "Free of Fees for Carry-On Act" preserves the airlines' right to determine what is classified as carry-on baggage and maintains their right to enforce carry-on baggage rules on weight, size, and number of carry-on bags per passenger. The bill

 

(1) prohibits each air carrier operating in the United States from charging any fees for carry-on baggage that falls within the restrictions imposed by the air carrier with respect to the weight, size, or number of bags;

 

(2) requires each such air carrier to make detailed information about restrictions with respect to the weight, size, and number of carry-on baggage available to passengers before they arrive at the airport for a scheduled departure on the air carrier; and

 

(3) Requires each such air carrier to make available to the public and to the Secretary a list of all passenger fees and charges (other than airfare) that may be imposed by the air carrier, including fees for-

 

(A) Checked baggage or oversized or heavy baggage, including specialty items such as bicycles, skis, and firearms;

(B) Meals, beverages, or other refreshments;

(C) Seats in exit rows, seats with additional space, or other preferred seats in any given class of travel;

(D) Purchasing tickets from an airline ticket agent or a travel agency.