TSA Roundup: House Passes Security-Fees Cap, Lines Get Shorter

Frequent travelers just got some good news: Last week, the House passed a bill capping airport security fees after a controversial increase over the summer. The legislation is now making its way through the Senate.

Good news for travelers with complicated flight paths: There’s a good chance your trips are about to get a bit cheaper.

Last week, the House unanimously passed a bill that would cap at $11.20 the security fees that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) charges on each round trip. If the Senate follows suit, the measure would prevent worst-case scenarios in which passengers have to pay extra for extended layovers at airports.

The lack of a  cap was one of the most controversial parts of the new fee structure, which took effect in July and promptly caused headaches. In addition to paying the higher fees, some flyers were overcharged due to computer glitches.

Industry groups welcomed the House action. Airlines for America noted that the change would save passengers more than $60 million per year, and U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow said the bill “corrects a fundamental flaw” in how the fees are charged. However, he remained critical of the fees in general, which were more than doubled in a budget stopgap measure.

“As designed by Congress, a limited portion of the funds raised go to fund TSA operations, with the rest available for use on unrelated projects,” Dow said in a statement. “That violates our core principle that user fees must, in their entirety, benefit the users who pay them.”

Other TSA-related news of note:

Why the lines are moving faster: In a report on TSA data earlier this month, The Washington Post noted that more than half of all passengers received preferential treatment at security checkpoints over the summer. Those passengers didn’t have to take off their shoes or pull out their laptops to board a plane. The change is partly the result of new rules—children under 12, members of the military, civilian Defense Department employees, and adults over 75 no longer have to go through the normal security procedures—but some is due to increased use of TSA’s Precheck program. The result, according to the agency, is that wait times of 20 minutes or longer are down by 64 percent.

Airline security fee canceled: Since 2002, the U.S. airline industry has been required to pay its own security fee, yielding TSA an average of $373 million per year. But on Monday, The Hill reported that the Aviation Security Infrastructure Fee—which was left out of the budget bill that increased the security fee for passengers—would go away October 1.

Lines at airport security checkpoints have gotten shorter in part to loosening policies on who gets an exception. (Natalie Behring/Getty Images)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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