Travel Group Wants Ban on First Checked Bag Fee

Travel and tourism representatives are urging the government to make it illegal for airlines to charge checked bag fee for the first piece of luggage, among other air travel improvements.

The U.S. Travel Association released a report yesterday that the group describes as a "groundbreaking plan to improve security at America's airports and reduce the burden on travelers."

The group claims the flying experience will be improved for all travelers if airlines are required to allow passengers one checked bag as part of the base fare.

The panel – which was chaired by former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, former Congressman Jim Turner and Sam Gilliland, president and chief executive officer of Sabre Holdings – is also asking the government to reconsider the Transportation Security Administration's "one-size-fits-all security screening system" that looks at every passenger as a potential terrorist.

The group is also strongly advocating a "trusted travel" program, in which frequent fliers can volunteer personal information for background checks that would verify the traveler poses little or no threat to aviation. In return, the travelers will has a "fast pass" through security: carry-on bags would still be checked, but these travelers would not be required to remove shoes, coats or hats.

According to the report, changing these processes will greatly reduce security wait times because screening efficiency will improve and security lines won't be clogged with passengers

more travelers will once again check bags, meaning the TSA will have less carry-on bags to screen at security checks.

"While our government and passengers deserve credit for preventing another terrorist attack like what happened nearly 10 years ago on 9/11, each day in the United States roughly two million air travelers are advised to arrive upwards of two hours before a flight in order to be processed through a one-size-fits-all security screening system," says USTA CEO Roger Dow in a statement.

"The country that put a man on the moon, invented the Internet and creates daily innovations in manufacturing can and must do better in screening passengers and improving our air travel experience," Dow adds.

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