TSA Fees Increasing And Passengers With Long Layovers Penalized

As part of a budget deal, Congress agreed to raise TSA fees starting next month. The cost will be raised to a flat $5.60 one-way, compared to the previous cost of $2.50 for a nonstop flight, or $5 for a flight with a connection. Basically the “9/11 Security Fee” is currently $2.50 per segment, so that means for someone taking a nonstop flight, the TSA fees are more than doubling.

It does make me chuckle a bit, because I wish the new policy had been in place years ago. Back then airlines had very lenient routing rules, so you could often fly five segments in each direction on a domestic itinerary. You’d pay $2.50 per segment in fees, so would have actually come out ahead under the new “pricing” scheme. Nowadays it’s tough to “pad” segments like that.

TSA

Of course this change sucks for the vast majority of people. But what I find even more interesting is that the TSA is now proposing to change the definition of a roundtrip so that they’re penalizing passengers with long connections.

Via USA Today:

But the agency proposes to change the definition of a round trip, according to details set to be published Friday in the Federal Register. Under the proposal, the TSA plans to charge a separate $5.60 fee for each leg of a flight in which a connection between domestic flights is more than four hours, or between domestic flights in Alaska or Hawaii and international destinations with layovers of more than 12 hours.

Perhaps not the most significant thing ever as most airlines won’t let you have a domestic connection of over four hours without the fare “breaking,” though still quite interesting. So if you booked a roundtrip ticket with two segments in each direction and long layovers, you’d be paying $22.40 in TSA fees alone, which seems crazy.

I mean, for $2.50 I find the quality of the “massages” to be acceptable, but if they’re more than doubling the prices I expect at least double the quality.

(Tip of the hat to Drew)

Comments

  1. I don’t think it’s fair to say the TSA is increasing fees. As you noted in the post, it was part of the budget deal between Congress and the White House. I’m all for blaming TSA when they’re wrong, but don’t sensationalize it by saying they did something they didn’t.

  2. Is the fee at all proportionate to what it costs to run the TSA or are these things completely divorced? In other words, is the TSA entirely funded by fees collected from passengers? Does the government subsidize the TSA or is the TSA a net earner?

  3. @Tom –

    The revenue from the fees are not going to the TSA budget they are able to be used by Congress to fund unrelated projects.

    “In the budget agreement for the current fiscal year, the fee was raised knowing that a significant portion would be used to fund unrelated projects by Congress, instead of using all of the new revenue to pay for improved security activities…”

    http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2014/06/19/say-hello-to-higher-airline-ticket-fees-next-month/

  4. That’s right Daniel, the TSA woke up this morning and was all “Whoa, sweet!” If you think they didn’t cause this you need to retake real life 101.

  5. @Drew: That’s a shame. I’d be willing to pay a higher fee if it meant shorter lines or better service.

  6. Lucky, as you note in your first paragraph, Congress is raising the fees, NOT the TSA. It’s Congress that’s “penalizing” people. The TSA isn’t doing anything.

  7. I have some new fees I will be charging the TSA
    It will vary depending on issue
    25.00 for understaffing and long wait
    30.00 for determining my chocolates may be suspicious while weapons get through with others!

  8. Didn’t the budget act also reduce the amount of security fees paid by the airlines by like $400 million (to be made up from this increase on passengers)? The remainder goes to the general fund?

    Public comment must be taken, but since this is a congressional mandate, not a true rule making, it can’t be changed without congress acting.

  9. The part about the fee revenue being used for other non-TSA purposes is what makes this interesting as they aren’t even pretending this is to increase security.

  10. What this will really affect is award tickets where it is common to have long layovers or stopovers.

  11. It makes sense to charge per one-way trip, instead of per segment. What we’re paying for is the cost of passing through the checkpoint, and (except for a few poorly-designed older airports), when you connect, you don’t re-clear security. And the exception for long connections sort of makes sense too; if you have a really long layover, you’re much more likely to exit the secure area and need to re-clear.

  12. Although I’m not glad about the increased fees, I *am* glad that it’s not (all) going to the TSA. The TSA most certainly does not need more money to provide its current brand of security theater, which is utterly ineffective in increasing safety while still convincing the majority of sheeple that they are being protected from wild-eyed black-bearded jihadis.

  13. @Arcanum: “Iā€™d be willing to pay a higher fee if it meant shorter lines or better service.”

    I do pay a higher fee – it’s called Global Entry – and it no longer comes with shorter lines or better service.

    There were so many people in the Pre line at ORD yesterday, I almost switched over to the regular line – but then I decided I didn’t feel like taking off my shoes. (But that’s another story.)

    Point is, it’s the government – so logic doesn’t apply.

  14. @ Tom

    For next fiscal year (Oct. 1, 2014-Sept. 30, 2015) TSA fees are estimated to make up $2.08 billion of the TSA’s $7.31 billion budget. So, if the fees are to “pay” for the airport security apparatus, they’d have to be much higher than this modest increase.

    Actually, total fee income is actually supposed to be lower next fiscal year than this current fiscal year ($2.08B vs. $2.12B)

  15. @ swag — That’s only if you’re not maximizing your TSA experience. You can go through multiple times if you want to get as much value out of it as possible. šŸ˜‰

  16. They have to pay for ridiculous overstaffing. I flew into small Waco, TX airport that has two “gates” and maybe a handful of flights. I counted 15 TSA “employees” “working”. They may have outnumbered the number of passengers in the airport.

  17. funding unrelated projects… like more wars, bank bailouts, spying on citizens, freebies for immigrants, I get it.

  18. @Daniel

    If those numbers are true, and I have no reason to believe they aren’t, then, excluding any revenue from cargo screening. the TSA is ~$5bn short which amounts to a $5bn subsidy for Air Travel. Imagine if $5bn was dedicated to rail or mass transit, imagine the howls of protest.

    Really the TSA fee should be $12-13 if it is going to get close to covering costs. Although a much better thought would be coming up with a much better, more effective and more efficient air travel security system than the theatricals we currently have to endure.

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