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On the Horizon: Higher Airport Fees

Among the ever-lengthening list of taxes and fees that makes published airfares just the barest glimmer of the final ticket price is the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC), currently up to $4.50 per segment. PFCs are assessed to help finance such infrastructure projects as terminal expansions, bathroom upgrades, improved security checkpoints, and the like.

Watch your wallet, though. There’s a move afoot in Congress to up the PFC to a maximum of $8.50 per segment.

As reported by The Hill, the Senate Appropriations Committee has approved a spending bill for fiscal year 2018 that includes a provision increasing the maximum PFC by $4.00.

It is believed that President Trump could be convinced to support the PFC increase, as it complements his plans to upgrade the country’s airports, roads, and bridges, which he has famously derided as “third world.” But the move has its critics as well.

Making for strange bedfellows, the hike is opposed by many consumer advocates as well as by Airlines for America, the lobbying group representing the interests of most U.S. airlines. According to A4A:

Airline passengers already pay over $20 billion a year in taxes for the tickets they purchase. Adding another $3.2 billion tax hike on American travelers simply cannot be justified. The truth of the matter is that airports are flush with cash. It is disingenuous at best for Congress to repeatedly saddle traveling families and businesses with tax-hike after tax-hike while airports are sitting on billions in unused funds.

A4A estimates that the new tax would increase to $78 the average amount of taxes levied on a $300 ticket, and that a family of four taking a roundtrip connecting flight would be hit with an extra tax bite of $64.

Notwithstanding the naysayers, the higher tax appears to be gaining momentum in Congress and has better-than-even odds of finding itself in a final bill.

Reader Reality Check

Should taxpayers be subsidizing airport improvements? Shouldn’t airports be self-funding improvements with the revenues they generate from their airline and other customers?

More from SmarterTravel:

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

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