- Days left

Airports and airlines fight over who gets to lighten your wallet the most

The authorities that run America's airports don't think you've been nickeled and dimed enough. They're lobbying Congress to hike the "passenger facility charge" from the current $4.50 to $7.50, levied each time you take off from an airport, not per trip. That's a jump of two-thirds.

An increase to $7, tucked into a measure set to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration, is making its way through the House. The Senate has voted in the past to freeze the amount where it is, but we all know politicians. The caprices of either side can shift as quickly as the windsocks on the runways.

A rep for the American Association of Airport Executives (side note: never take money advice from a group with the word "Executives" in its name) told USA Today that the airports just want your money to "keep up with inflation," claiming purchasing power for the fee has decreased by 50% in nine years.


Since the charge was first introduced in 1992, the airports have collectively raked in more than $27.5 billion in what amounts to a de facto tax.

Airlines, you will be surprised to learn, have found themselves in the unusual position of taking the customer's side, although the gesture isn't as magnanimous as it may seem on the surface. Knowing their own leverage for bleeding will be weakened if the airports get in on the act, they have been active in opposing the increase. So they can more liberally apply their own extra fees in the future, no doubt.

The rep for the airlines' own organization says the airports use too much of the existing charge to fund non-essential projects and that there's no reason to give them any more right now.

They may have a point. Just because your airport is in woeful shape, or poorly designed, or inadequate, doesn't mean that the pressure on passengers should be turned up. We all know that often, the money earmarked from such taxes and fees doesn't hit the intended mark.

The airports would also benefit from better money management. For example, LAX in Los Angeles used $760,000 of its budget -- the one that's allegedly so stretched -- to pay for lobbyists to convince Congress to increase the fee.

Airports are also able to use revenue bonds, parking and rental car fee revenue, and even grants from the FAA itself to meet its budgets.

So that's where the tiff stands, like something between a couple of children whining to their mother that the other one got the bigger cookie. The airlines are protecting their right to be the main agent taking our pound of flesh, while the airports are jealous that the airlines get to bleed us for $15 luggage fees. (Yes, that's literally what AAAE rep told USA Today: "We scratch our heads when airlines talk about a $2.50 increase for infrastructure investment as a bad thing. But it's fine for them to charge $15 for a baggage fee.")

If these two kids keep squabbling like this, Mom -- meaning Congress -- may have to figure out a whole new method for giving out cookies, and codify who's allowed to take what from passengers, what the maximum charges should be, and, most crucial of all, what should be properly taxed.

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Introduction to Retirement Funds

Target date funds help you maintain a long term portfolio.

View Course »

What is Inflation?

Why do prices go up?

View Course »

TurboTax Articles

Tax Aspects of Home Ownership: Selling a Home

Though most home-sale profit is now tax-free, there are still steps you can take to maximize the tax benefits of selling your home. Learn how to figure your gain, factoring in your basis, home improvements and more.

What is Form 1095-C: Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage

The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, requires certain employers to offer health insurance coverage to full-time employees and their dependents. Further, those employers must send an annual statement to all employees eligible for coverage describing the insurance available to them. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) created Form 1095-C to serve as that statement.

What is IRS Form 8379: Injured Spouse Allocation

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has the power to seize income tax refunds when a taxpayer owes certain debts, such as unpaid taxes or overdue child support. Sometimes, a married couple's joint tax refund will be seized because of a debt for which only one spouse is responsible. When that happens, the other spouse is said to be "injured" and can file Form 8379 to get at least some of the refund.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum