Video: Passengers 'diSpirited' over bag fees

  1. Transcript of: Passengers 'diSpirited' over bag fees

    BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: Last night here we told you about the latest airline effort to squeeze every dollar out of flying passengers. Spirit Airlines has announced it will charge to put bags in the overhead bins. You know how people generally feel these days about airlines and air travel ? Can you guess what they thought of this idea? Our report tonight from NBC 's Kevin Tibbles .

    KEVIN TIBBLES reporting: Just when you thought all the pleasure had been nickel-and-dimed out of flying, it's Ben Stiller in " Meet the Parents " all over again.

    TIBBLES: Now they're after your carry-on luggage. It just didn't sit right with those jet-setters on "Today" today.

    MATT LAUER reporting: Forty-five bucks.

    MEREDITH VIEIRA reporting: Forty-five bucks?

    LAUER: Yeah.

    VIEIRA: That's the spirit.

    AL ROKER reporting: There you go.

    LAUER: Yup, discount carrier Spirit Air will now charge $45 to stow your carry-on overhead, 30 if you pay up before showing up at the gate. And sheepish Spirit ain't.

    TIBBLES: There's two ends of the business, there's Nordstroms and there's Walmart . They're both successful retailers, but you can't say they're in the same business, in the same way we're not in the same business as a full-service airline.

    Mr. BEN BALDANZA (Spirit Airlines President and CEO): To many travelers, it's an affront.

    TIBBLES: I paid enough to, you know, get a -- get on the flight and go there.

    Unidentified Woman #1: I hope it dies an ugly death.

    Unidentified Man: Spirit says its cut its fares to the bone, so bring less, pay less. Rival JetBlue is already poking fun with its mock sherpa shirt. `Hey, wear your luggage on board .' A small part of this does make sense . It just might stop people from trying to squeeze everything, including the kitchen sink , into the overhead compartment.

    TIBBLES: I think it's ridiculous, especially for families traveling with children.

    Unidentified Woman #2: Spirit won't charge for diaper bags or strollers. But where will it end? Europe 's Ryanair is planning to charge $1.40 to use the toilet. Of course, in England that's a pound to use the loo. So to save money , you might consider visiting grandma without any luggage at all.

    TIBBLES: And they've got to remember grandma always has a washing machine , right?

    Mr. BALDANZA: Just don't forget the kids...

    TIBBLES: ...even home alone .

    TIBBLES: They cost enough already.

    TIBBLES: Kevin!

    Unidentified Actress: And, no, that isn't my mom. Kevin Tibbles, NBC News, Chicago.


updated 4/11/2010 1:41:32 PM ET 2010-04-11T17:41:32

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."

Schumer said carry-on bags often contain medications and other necessities, particularly for families. Carry-on fees artificially avoid higher ticket prices and the taxes applied to tickets, Schumer said.

The fee, however, is legal. The first airline to try it, Spirit Airlines, announced last week it would charge up to $45 for a carry-on, but that it was also reducing the cost of most tickets by $40.

Spirit CEO Ben Baldanza has said having fewer carry-on bags will help empty the plane faster, and the fee is intended to get customers to pay for individual things they want, while keeping the base fare low. Charging for checked bags but not carry-ons also means many passengers lug as much as they can onto planes.

There was no immediate comment Friday from the Treasury Department, which would handle the case because it's considered a tax issue.

Schumer wrote to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner seek to end what Schumer calls a loophole in law that allows the fees. Without action by Treasury, Schumer said he will introduce legislation.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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