I have complained, more than once, about the naked greed and obvious incompetence displayed by the airlines charging $25 or more to passengers who check luggage. The results of this reverse incentive are that people carry on too many, and too large bags, boarding takes longer, and flights are delayed. Passengers talk about the idiocy of the policy all the time. So do the airline attendants. Anyone can see how dumb the policy is. The smart approach would be to charge for anything carried on other than a handbag or briefcase, and make checked luggage free. Boarding would be faster and there wouldn’t be passengers using the sneaky (but effective!) trick of carrying a piece of luggage through security only to check it at the gate at no charge when the airline personnel makes the routine plea for passengers to free up luggage bin space by doing so.
Now comes Janet Napolitano, President Obama’s inept head of Homeland Security (no, I’m never forgiving her), to tell a Senate sub-committee that the airlines’ backward policy also costs the country and taxpayers millions. Because luggage fees have prompted more passengers to hold onto their bags, she says, there are more items for Transportation Security Administration officers to inspect at security checkpoints, adding an estimated $260 million per year to the costs of security.
To which I would add, “Duh! And what was your first clue, Sherlock?” Where was Homeland Security, or anyone else with a brain stem, when the airlines instituted this policy? Was it not obvious that charging to check bags would have this effect? Did Janet have to wait two years of $260 million of unnecessary expenditures—that’s about a half-billion dollars by my slide-rule—before sharing this information?
Ah, but our Senators are up to the challenge, now that they have all the facts. Sen. Mary Landrieu, chairwoman of the subcommittee, told the hearing, “Checked bagged fees are increasing, it looks like, the cost to TSA because people don’t want to pay the fees so they are not checking bags and putting more on the planes. My question is, do the taxpayers have to pick up this fee? Or should we be looking at the airlines for some of the profits that they make from these fees to offset the cost the taxpayer?”
Morons. So Landrieu wants to add an extra tax to the already struggling airlines, which they will promptly pass along to travelers in ticket prices, who already have to pay the stupid, counter-intuitive, security straining, plane-delaying fees to check luggage, making it even more likely that they will try to save the $25 to $50 by not checking their bags, causing more bin crowding, more delays, less income to the airlines and more check-point costs!
Good thinking, Senator Landrieu, you incompetent fool. And no, that isn’t uncivil. That is a fact.
Meanwhile, how does Yahoo begin its story about Sec. Napolitano’s lightning-quick realization that a three-year old airline policy adds to security costs? Like this:
“Choosing to carry your luggage onto a plane instead of checking it with an airline might save you a few bucks at the ticket counter but it’s costing taxpayers about a quarter-billion dollars a year.”
That’s right. This is all OUR fault.