Travel sales may be threatened by new Security Fee

Airlines and travel agents blasted a proposal floated by the House Appropriations Committee that would double the $2.50 per segment security fee paid on airline tickets to $5.

At the time of this report, the House had postponed a vote on the proposal, which is part of a $29.7 billion emergency supplemental appropriation to cover the Transportation Security Adminstration`s rising costs.

But airlines and travel agents contend raising the fee would hamper air travel sales, just as the industry is starting to rebound from the effects of the Sept. 11 attacks.

“Charging passengers up to $20 per roundtrip on top of the price of a ticket is excessive,” said ASTA president Richard Copland.

Continental chairman Gordon Bethune said raising the fee would hike the total tax on a $100 airline ticket to $53.

Bethune compared the possible effect of the proposal to sin taxes, which are designed to discourage consumption.

The proposed fee hike also was assailed by the National Business Travel Association.

In February, the government began assessing a $2.50 fee per leg on U.S. airline passengers to help cover some of the TSA`s costs.