At least according to the TSA since Congress hasn’t defined the meaning of roundtrip, no such meaning exists and therefore it can mean whatever they say.
TSA Administrator John Pistole responded to Leocha and the airlines in a letter that the fee will affect all travelers equally for one-way trips and that nothing in the law passed by Congress defined a round trip.
Here’s why it matters.
Back in December Congress agreed to raise taxes on travel, as part of their overall budget deal. They’ve removed the illusion that TSA “9/11 security fees” go to fund security
The budget deal increased ‘security’ ticket taxes that now go to the federal government’s general revenues, from $2.50 per segment (up to $5 each way) to $5.60 each way regardless of non-stop or connecting.
As a result, a non-stop roundtrip goes from $5 to $11.20 (124% increase), while a connecting roundtrip goes from $10 to $11.20 (12% increase). Because aviation, already taxed like cigarettes and alcohol, isn’t taxed heavily enough.
But here’s the rub. In order to generate even more revenue, the TSA is publishing a proposed rule to re-define “roundtrip” in order to increase ticket taxes even further.
- The TSA is proposing that the $5.60 fee will apply to each leg when a domestic connection is greater than 4 hours, or an international stopover is more than 12 hours.
- They also propose that the $5.60 each way would apply doubly when connecting between the U.S. mainland and Alaska and Hawaii.
Instead of capping taxes at $10 per ticket, how expensive could this get?
The TSA cited an example that could yield $28 in fees, if a traveler flew from Newark to Chicago to Denver to Las Vegas to Chicago to Newark, with four-hour connections between each city.
Even the authors of the budget deal, who were looking to shoulder passengers with over $16 billion in additional fees over 10 years, are.. like… whaaaaa?
But the chairs of the Senate and House budget committees, who agreed to the deal to raise the fee, said they didn’t intend to raise the cap beyond $5.60 each way.
Aviation Newspeak. A roundtrip is no longer a one-way from A to B, returning from B to A. Especially if B is Alaska or Hawaii.
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