US Congressmen: Drop baggage fees to cut airport congestion
Two US senators have urged airlines to temporarily stop charging passengers baggage fees in an effort to speed up security queues.
Senators Richard Blumenthal and Edward Markey said passengers often bring extra items through the security screening process to save money.
They asked major US airlines to suspend the fees during the busy summer season.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has struggled with long queues at major airports.
"Passengers report waiting for so long in these lines that they miss flights, despite arriving at the airport hours in advance." the senators wrote in a letter to the airlines.
"Travel officials, including TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger, have expressed fears of a meltdown this summer as travel increases."
A spokeswoman representing the many of the airlines said the senators plan is a misguided attempt to re-regulate airline and would raise ticket prices.
Jean Medina of Airlines for America said the TSA should hire additional staff at the busiest airports instead.
Federal budget cuts have recently reduced the number of TSA screeners.
American and Delta airlines said they planned to loan employees to the TSA to handle low-level tasks.
The TSA was created in response to the 9/11 attacks, but the agency has been often accused of mismanagement and using inept screening procedures.
American Airlines recently complained to Congress about TSA checkpoints, saying more than 6,000 American passengers missed flights in one week because of security delays.
"The lines at TSA checkpoints nationwide have become unacceptable," said Ross Feinstein, a spokesman for American.
Many airlines introduced baggage fees in 2008 to cope with soaring fuel costs.
Despite historically low oil prices and record airline profits, the fees have not been revoked.