Menendez to US Airlines: Smaller Carry-On Bags Cannot Equal Bigger Profits

Menendez to US Airlines: Smaller Carry-On Bags Cannot Equal Bigger Profits

At Newark-Liberty Airport, Senator Says He Wants to Protect Consumers from New Airline-Industry Gimmick

NEWARK, NJ – In a press conference inside Newark-Liberty International Airport, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) today said if U.S. airlines adopt new guidelines recommended by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to reduce carry-on bag sizes, they must also eliminate or reduce checked-bag fees. Menendez is leading a letter to CEO’s of all major U.S. carriers asking for immediate answers on if and how they intend to employ the new guidelines and protect consumers from another new fee for travel.

“As both a U.S. Senator and consumer I’m obviously concerned this proposal to cut the size of allowable carry-ons is a gimmick so airlines can keep padding those bag profits,” said Sen. Menendez, Ranking Member on the Senate Banking Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development.  “I’m telling U.S. airlines that if our luggage has to go on a diet, the result cannot be another airline-industry profit binge.  We already have less seat-space, less leg-room, fewer options and higher costs – we have to stand up for consumers and say “no” to the airline industry.”

The IATA guideline would trim the size of allowable carry-on luggage by over 20% for some American airlines. Menendez showed reporters the difference in luggage size and stressed that the airline industry is already profiting from checked-bag fees and should not place another burden on the flying public.

U.S.-based passenger airlines made $3.5 billion in tax free baggage fees in 2014, and since 2008 the industry has racked up over $21 billion in the fees, according to figures released by the U.S. Department of Transportation in May. Moreover, the IATA is also predicting that global airlines will make nearly $30 billion in profits next year—with half of that total expected to come from North American carriers.

This isn’t the first time Menendez is leading on airline industry fairness.  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 greater 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, which would require greater disclosure of fees such as those for bags and seats.