Menendez: Are New Carry-On Guidelines Just Another Airline-Industry Money Grab?

Menendez: Are New Carry-On Guidelines Just Another Airline-Industry Money Grab?

Menendez Wants Answers from U.S.-Based Airlines to Avoid Bait-and-Switch

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) today responded to new guidelines announced by the International Air Transport Association that recommends reducing carry-on bag sizes across the board. The guideline would trim the size of allowable carry-on luggage by over 20% for some American airlines.

“If our luggage has to go on a diet, let’s make sure the result isn’t another airline industry profit binge,” said Sen. Menendez, Ranking Member on the Senate Banking Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development. “This must not turn into another industry ploy related to baggage fees since dubious tactics, like hidden fees, are already used to trick consumers. Fliers who own previously-approved carry-on bags should not have to cough up another baseless fee to the profit-bloated airline industry.”

Menendez has introduced the Real Transparency in Airfares Act to boost consumer protections for air travelers by increasing penalties on airlines and travel websites that fail to post the total costs upfront, and try to surprise customers with additional charges at check-out. Additionally, Menendez has been championing additional consumer protections since 2008 with his Clear Airfares Act, a bill to require better disclosure of hidden fees. In May of 2014, Menendez responded to proposed standard the U.S. Department of Transportation issued, based in part on the Clear Airfares Act, that would require greater disclosure of fees such as those for bags and seats.

Menendez Warns of Airline Industry Bait-and-Switch

“Cutting the size of carry-ons will inevitably force more passengers to check their bags for a fee, driving up the cost to fly,” said Sen. Menendez. “If the airlines’ decision to trim the size of carry-ons is really about improving customer service, then they should in turn give them a break on checked-bag fees, otherwise it’s just a bait-and-switch. I intend to contact the U.S. airlines and ask them whether they plan to adopt this standard—and if so, how they plan to reduce the negative consequences for the traveling public, who will be forced to pay costly bag fees or spring for brand-new luggage." 

The 27 U.S.-based passenger airlines made $3.5 billion in baggage fees and $3 billion in reservation-change fees in 2014, according to figures released by the U.S. Department of Transportation in May. 

Chart Source: The Washington Post