U.S. airlines are using those small barf bags in their seatback pockets to lobby against a possible increase in the $2.50 Sept. 11th security fee. “Are high taxes on air travel making you sick?” a trade association, Airlines for America, is asking on airsickness bags being distributed this week at Reagan National Airport near Washington. The goal is to persuade members of Congress—especially Republicans—that the 9/11 fee is merely a tax by another name and that a scramble for new revenue should not hit air travelers.
The possible increase, which has been proposed before but failed to advance in Congress, has gotten new life as politicians struggle to avoid further cuts outlined by budget sequestration. As a result, the $2.50 fee to fund the Transportation Security Administration could double to $5. Airlines are seething because higher overall ticket costs reduce sales, which is why carriers have been keen in recent years to add every imaginable optional fee of their own rather than boost underlying fares. “Congress and the administration should focus on improving TSA efficiency, rather than use airline passengers as their own personal piggy bank to finance a budget deal,” said Airlines for America spokesman Vaughn Jennings.