Stop carrying on about our carry-ons, Senator Schumer
posted at 10:11 pm on April 11, 2010 by Patrick Ishmael
Ever wonder what the Nanny State would look like if it could fly? Here’s a glimpse.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer said Sunday he’s trying to get the federal government to prohibit airlines from charging a fee for carry-on baggage, calling it a “slap in the face to travelers.”
The New York Democrat is making a personal plea to the Treasury Department to rule that carry-on bags are a necessity for travel, which would make them exempt from a separate fee outside the ticket price.
“Airline passengers have always had the right to bring a carry-on bag without having to worry about getting nickeled and dimed by an airline company,” Schumer said. “This latest fee is a slap in the face to travelers.”
Dear Senator Schumer: Let the market deal with this. As annoying as a carry-on bag fee would be, it is exceedingly more annoying to have the government dictating the minutia about how airlines assign and manage their expenses. As any semi-sentient economist knows, legally forbidding a “carry-on fee” doesn’t make it go away; the fee just gets imputed back into the cost of the ticket, which for most airlines the cost of carrying on already includes. Some fees are avoidable; I rarely check a bag these days. Other fees… not so much.
The fact is that everything built into and brought aboard an aircraft has a dollar sign attached to it: the food, the weight of the chairs, the number of flight attendants and pilots, the maintenance of the bathroom… every bit of it costs money and is distributed between the cost of a ticket and independent fees attached to them. But most of the time, those costs aren’t individualized. Do we like paying for checked in bags beyond the cost of our tickets? No. Does the addition of individualized fees affect whether we fly with a particular carrier? Yes, absolutely. Just ask Southwest Airlines and RyanAir. Smart airlines don’t “nickel and dime” their passengers or else the passengers will leave them, and serious governments don’t assign a “right to carry-on for free” (or rather, “without an individualized fee”) simply because a politician deems that right to exist.
The inanity of Senator Schumer’s idea speaks for itself, but if it also eventually speaks for the Treasury Department, it only goes to show that even the sky isn’t the limit for ridiculous government interventions.