Some have suggested that forcing airlines to allow one free checked bag will dramatically reduce Transportation Security Administration (TSA) airport checkpoint wait lines. That suggestion overlooks basic facts.
There is a cost to transporting bags, and many carriers have adopted business models that account for that cost by giving their customers more choice. Making choices and paying for services you use and value is common practice across industry because it is fair and equitable. Service choices in the airline industry are not new. Airlines began offering customers the option to pay for services they value, including checking a bag, more than three years ago.
Rather than limit choice and regulate what airlines can or cannot offer fliers, regulators should continue working on the efficiency of airport checkpoints.
The government imposing its judgment about competitive services will not improve wait times.
Airlines have found that a fee is not the sole driver in a customer's decision to check a bag, and today fewer than one in four customers pay a fee.
Regulating pricing is a 30-year step backward to when customers paid more and had fewer choices. Consumers have been the big winners from airline deregulation. Adjusting for inflation, customers pay 40% less to fly today than they did in 1978.
At the same time, flying today is seven times safer than it was in 1978. America's airlines will safely connect more than 23 million customers to family and friends this Thanksgiving.
We all know that going through security is a necessary, but often lengthy process. Our airlines are committed to ensuring that their customers' experience is as positive as possible and are working with the TSA to improve their wait time.
The Air Transport Association partnered with the TSA and the Air Line Pilots Association on Known Crewmember, which enables pilots to go through a separate security line, improving security and wait times for all. We hope to add flight attendants and fully support TSA PreCheck, a program for fliers who volunteer to be pre-screened, which will also reduce lines.
We agree with the TSA that focusing the agency's resources on the greatest risks, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, will improve security and the customer experience.
The following op-ed was originally written by Nicholas E. Calio; President and CEO of the Air Transport Association on 11-23-11. This editorial supports JetReady.com belief in Consumer Choice.