It’s A Bag, Bag World

Like many airline travelers out there, I absolutely detest bag fees, and try my best avoid airlines that like to nickel-and-dime the public. But, according to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, the frugal, carry-on public is costing the agency more than $260 million per year.

How so? In a hearing in front of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on homeland security last week , Napolitano put it easily. As more travelers refuse to check their bags and instead carry-on, there is more for TSA to inspect and screen before allowing passengers on their way (hopefully with their dignity in tact.)

"When you have to pay to check a bag it increases carry-on luggage and that means there is more to inspect at the gate and so forth for passengers to get on planes," Napolitano said.

And where does the TSA believe the funds to cover the costs should come from? You guessed it -- the traveling public. Without directly pushing for it, Napolitano said a $5 increase in security fees on each way of a flight would net the agency almost $600 million dollars more per year.

Let’s hope Congress has better things to worry about than give Napolitano and the agency that much more cash. And on the bright side, an increase of the fee has been proposed every year since 2002 but never passed.

While in Honolulu, apparently there are too many checked bags or a really laid-back attitude, as at least 27 TSA screeners are under investigation for something as simple (and deadly) as not screening checked bags for explosives.

Confined to nine daily morning departures from Lobby 4 in the airport, what is estimated to be thousands of bags were never opened and screened for as long as four months.

TSA officials tried to downplay the issue, saying it was less than 12 percent of the departures from the airport during the time period. But just one bag filled with explosives that slips by security can easily put thousands of lives at risk. I’m glad to see the investigation started after fellow employees turned in the rogue agents.

Posted by Brent Dirks on Mar 07, 2011

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