Federal Budget Deal Might Include Higher Air Travel Taxes

Brace yourselves for higher airline ticket fees, maybe. In Congress, budget negotiators are trying to craft a deal that would keep the government running and avoid automatic spending cuts without raising taxes. But lawmakers say the deal may include higher user fees, among them, a doubling of the security fee air passengers pay – from $2.50 per flight segment to $5.

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Alaska Congressman Don Young says it’s not fair to his constituents.

“We don’t have any highways.  We fly more,” Young said. “There’s really no way we can get around without air, so we’ll be the heaviest taxed, and by the way, again I think that’s unconstitutional.”

He says such an increase should go through the normal congressional committee process, not come locked in as part of a budget bill.

“I’m inclined not to vote for it now [if] that type thing is in the bill,” Young said.

It’s unclear whether negotiators will be able to reach a budget agreement, without or without the air travel fee hike, but the airline industry is fighting back hard. They had leafleteers at the airport nearest the U.S. Capitol this week, handing out airsickness bags with their message on them.

“Are higher taxes on air travel making you sick?”

They say taxes on a typical $300 round trip fare already come to more than $60.

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent at Alaska Public Media. Reach her at lruskin@alaskapublic.org. Read more about Liz here.

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