As if flying weren't costly enough, your next plane ticket is going to be more expensive, thanks to the federal government. Today the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) security fee rose by more than double.
Until Monday, a passenger was charged $2.50 for each leg of a journey. For a nonstop round trip, the cost was $5. For a round trip with a connection each way, the cost was $10.
The fee was capped at two flights each way. That means you couldn't get charged more than $5 each way or $10 round trip, even if you took three flights to get your destination.
Now, passengers must pay a flat fee of $5.60 in each direction, no matter how many plane transfers are made to get from one city to another.
For passengers flying a nonstop round trip, that means the fee will increase from $5 to $11.20.
Passengers flying round-trip with a connection each way will see their fees increase $1.20 to $11.20 per round trip, versus $10 before the fee increase.
Domestic flyers will also get hit with an additional $5.60 if you have a layover that's four hours or longer.
"Business travelers who fly non-stop routes, and travelers in secondary markets requiring connections," suggests Fox News, "will see the biggest impact."
The securirty agency, which operates with an annual budget of over $7 billion, gets a lot of flak. More than half of Americans believe all those pat-downs and invasive body scans are mere security theater that have no real deterrent on hijackings. And those skeptics are right. Research on the 13-year-old agency shows it so far hasn't had a measurable effect on air travel safety.
The "TSA estimates the hike will generate $16.9 billion more than current collections," explains USA Today. The heftier fee won't actually do much (if anything) to improve security, though. "Congress agreed to the increase in December to raise $12.6 billion to cut the deficit," and nothing will go to security improvement until that's paid.
Airlines for America criticizes that the government treating "airlines and their passengers as its own personal ATM," though some members of Congress say they never intended for the TSA to charge this much. Senate Budget Committee chair Patty Murray (D-Wash.) has contested that the TSA changed how defines a "round trip" flight in order to work around the cap Congress placed on the agency's fees.