A Sticky Wicket

Paul Bowers
Published in: 

A checked bag fee of $20 is a harder pill to swallow than a $7 PFC, right? Not true.

Charging $20 for a checked bag is pure capitalism at its best. A PFC of $7 is an unjust fee or tax - another example of government gone amuck. Although the $20 baggage fee from the private sector costs the traveler more than twice as much, it doesn't cause nearly the stink of raising PFCs by $2.50.

All of the baggage fees and other ancillary revenues collected by airlines have pretty much dropped to the bottom line and created profits. That's OK; it's what America is all about. Conversely, the $7 PFC used to build airport infrastructure necessary for safe and secure airport environments has been branded a tax. It's what's wrong with America, and it led to the election of 87 new members in the House of Representatives.

So why is it so hard for anyone in Washington to understand that airports need money to remain safe and accommodate record numbers of travelers? Part of the problem is that we're dependent on politicians to understand the process of airport funding. After all, it's not simple; their predecessors set it up.

It's easy to campaign on cutting back government, cutting taxes and shifting control to the locals. However, our current system was set up to operate utilizing the aviation trust fund, AIP and the process of authorizations and appropriations. A tipping point arises when the current system isn't allowed to provide for security and safety mandates or the growth of airports and viable alternatives haven't been established.

Either the process needs to change or adequate funding needs to be restored. The money needs to come from somewhere. If Congress needs to show its resolve in cutting budgets, it can cut airport funding - but only after it allows airports to generate needed funds through other means.

Cheers! Paul

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