Separate bag fee raises cost
GAO report says fliers paid less when the checked-bag price was included in the airfare.
Air travelers paid less when the cost of checking luggage was included in the price of an airline ticket than they do now that airlines charge separately, according to a government report.
The report by the Government Accountability Office was requested by Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who responded to the findings with a call to crack down on airline fees.
“This report confirms what countless passengers across the country already know to be true — that airlines are nickel and diming captive passengers to line their pockets, not to cover the costs of the services,” Markey said in a statement.
Starting in 2008, the nation’s airlines began a policy of “unbundling” services, such as charging extra fees to check luggage, to buy food and drinks or connect to the internet.
Airlines say this tactic gives passengers the option of save money by paying only for those services they want.
Although domestic airfares have dropped over the last three consecutive years, the GAO report said the added fees make flying more expensive.
The GAO cited three peer-reviewed studies that concluded that travelers who now pay an extra fee to check at least one bag pay more, on average, to travel than they did when the bag cost was included in the airfare.
A 2015 study found that for every dollar passengers spent on bag fees, the airfare was reduced by only 11 cents. Most major carriers — with the exception of Southwest Airlines — charge $25 to check the first bag.
Airlines for America, a trade group for the nation’s airlines, responded to the report, saying fliers now get more choices for onboard services and amenities than ever before.
“It’s quite clear our passengers are more than able to navigate the wide menu of choices that airlines offer without interference from Washington,” the group said in a statement. Marriott under f ire for conference
Should a hotel chain make a judgment on the groups that hold conferences at one of its properties?
That is the question that was raised this week after the world’s largest hotel chain, Marriott International, announced it won’t cancel a conference next month for what critics say is an anti-Muslim hate group.
The Bethesda, Md., hospitality company said it will allow a conference next month at an Arlington, Va., hotel for a self-described grass-roots security organization known as ACT for America.
“We are a hospitality company that provides public accommodations and function space,” a Marriott spokesman said. “Acceptance of business does not indicate support or endorsement of any group or individual.”
Muslim Advocates, a legal advocacy group, and the Southern Poverty Law Center both describe ACT as an extremest anti-Muslim hate group. Muslim Advocates wrote to Marriott’s chief executive, Arne Sorenson, urging the company to cancel the Oct. 2-3 gathering.
ACT denies being a hate group and instead says it is advocating to protect the U.S. from terrorists and their supporters. The Washington-based organization was founded in 2007 by Brigitte Gabriel, a Lebaneseborn Christian immigrant who has appeared on Fox News as a commentator.
The group, which claims 750,000 members, has supported President Trump’s restrictions on refugees and travel from Muslim-majority countries. It organized protests throughout the country this summer against sharia law. In an online video promoting the October conference, Gabriel warns “The leftist Islamic coalition is raging war against the rule of law and against you and me. That’s why I need you by my side as we descend on Washington, DC.”
Although Marriott said it does not make a judgment on groups who use Marriott hotels, the Washington Dulles Marriott hotel was one of three hotels that in 2010 canceled a contract to host a conference of a white nationalist group, American Resistance.
A Marriott spokesman declined to comment on the 2010 cancellation.
ALTHOUGH domestic airfares have dropped over the last three consecutive years, the GAO report said the added fees make f lying more expensive.