New TSA Fees Will Make Airfare More Expensive

by on July 2, 2014 · 29 comments

in Airline Industry, Travel Industry, TSA

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Thinking about planning a big trip? Best to book your flights now, before they become more expensive. Starting on July 21, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will more than double – and no longer cap – the mandatory security fee they charge most airline passengers.

Formerly this fee was $2.50 for each leg of a flight, with a $5 cap on each one-way trip or a $10 cap on each round trip. On July 21, however, this fee will be uncapped and raised to $5.60 for each leg of a flight. Domestic layovers longer than four hours and international layovers longer than 12 hours will count as the second leg of a flight, for which you’ll be charged an additional fee. This may seem like an incremental change, but for those domestic travelers with connecting flights and long layovers, this could mean an increase of more than 5% in the price of airfare.

The TSA says it's raising this security fee in order to protect flyers

The TSA says it’s raising this security fee in order to protect flyers (something its present fees barely do).

These mandatory TSA fees are automatically built into ticket prices, so all airline travelers will be affected by them, but a special kind of pain will be endured by three types of travelers: business travelers with round trips that involve multiple destinations, people who aren’t based in major hubs and must take connecting flights, and budget travelers who purchase flights with low fares in exchange for one or more connections. While the security fees on these sorts of trips would previously have been capped at $10, soon each leg of of a multi-stop trip could incur its own separate fee.

The TSA says its present fees barely cover flyer security costs, and that this fee increase could generate an extra $16.9 billion to put toward flyer “security” over the next 10 years. Whether justified or not, these fees are yet another hole in the pockets of airline passengers, and will only add fuel to the fire of complaints about rising fares, narrower and less-padded seats, hassles at the airport, and increasingly ridiculous fees.

Higher TSA fees won't translate into shorter lines at the airport for years - if ever

Higher TSA fees won’t translate into shorter lines at the airport for years – if ever (Image courtesy of Shutterstock).

Don’t lose hope, though – there are still a few things you can do to offset the rising cost of flying. Find the best time to book by creating fare alerts on search engines like Airfarewatchdog and Kayak, or by using a when-to-buy-and-fly site like Whenever possible, book nonstop flights or those with short layovers to avoid the additional TSA fees.

Also, note that Congress may still overturn this increase at the eleventh hour, so take the opportunity to express your displeasure about the new fees. Refer to this list of individual Twitter and Facebook accounts for the nation’s congressional representatives, and let your state rep know that you don’t want to be charged higher, uncapped security fees when you fly.

In case this ruling goes through, be prepared for the worst – and book your next flights before July 21 arrives.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • AS

    This analysis is completely wrong. You didn’t even correctly state basic facts. It’s $5.60 per one way trip, not per segment, and for most people the revised definition of one-way trip will not make any difference at all compared to today.

    Nonstop fliers will feel the greatest impact, but most connecting flyers will see a small increase of $0.60 per one way or $1.20 per normal roundtrip. Less than one year’s inflation, let alone inflation over the past 10+ years.

    And it’s totally illogical to link government fees with airline fees. They are completely separate entities and completely different issues.

  • SeaBee3

    I agree with AS – you are definitely off on this. It is $5.60 per one-way unless the connection is longer than 4 hours. It is not a per “leg” fee but for each way. The only people that will feel it will be those that have longer than a 4 hour layover, which, for domestic travel, is not that many people.

  • taryn

    I’m reading an official document and here’s what I get from it:

    The current fee is $2.50 “per enplanement” with a cap of $5 per one-way trip. So a round-trip with non-stop flights is $5, and a round-trip with multi-stop flights is $10.

    The new rule is $5.60 per one-way trip. So a round-trip flight is now $10.20 regardless of the number of stops.

    If this is correct, the fee for round-trip with non-stop flights is going to double, from $5 to $10.

  • taryn

    (slight correction, the fee for round-trip with non-stop flights will double, from $5 to $10.20)

  • LF

    TSA = Thousands Standing Around

  • Gabriel

    It’s fucking asinine that we have to pay to be treated like shit at airports. The TSA is a scam that has NEVER caught any terrorist and isn’t even adequate at doing the supposed job it’s claiming to do

  • Ed

    The People get what they voted for. Next time, try using your brain when handling the red crayon instead of listening to “hope and change” stories.

  • Gabriel

    TSA came around during the Bush and “WAR” years, Ed. The sad thing is that Obama stuck with the status qo of the same crap Bush started.

  • Calculator

    Not sure that I can trust anyone who can’t add $5.60 and $5.60!!

  • David Adams

    That’s true. The Homeland Security department should never have been created. If you ever get the chance to vote for George W Bush again, don’t do it!

  • epaminondas3294

    Bush actually didn’t want it to be an agency, he just wanted a homeland security adviser, but congress wouldn’t let him and insisted it be a federal agency.

  • awer

    The blame “Obama” vs. “Bush” stuff is all nonsense.

    The real problem is that we have a government that is out of control, corrupt, and completely unable to manage its most basic functions. A nation that cannot manage its finances, protect its borders, and spies on its citizens — is a nation doom to fail.

    And for the TSA, it become worse/dangerous when it was allowed to unionize so that lackluster employees can never be fired for incompetence or corruption.

    The US govt. has become in the last 15 years — top-to-bottom — so corrupt, morally and financially bankrupt — it is beyond words.

  • m2

    I agree. I find the security at LHR to more reasonable — and the Brits probably have more threats at Heathrow than probably any airport in the world.

  • whme

    this is true. Among others, Nancy Pelosi and Diane Feinstein, Dick Turbin, Schumer… (and I could on) were principal supporters of DHS formation.

    Politicians, of both parties, love big government and big spending. It’s important for them to keep them in power, outside of results.

    Results don’t matter to them. Being able to get re-elected to spend our tax dollars does matter, when the wind blows their way during public opinion (and at the time, Americans were very worried about another 9/11).

  • JD

    I really dint understand what is he big deal here. The majority of people who can fly, can afford to pay a couple more dollars more for security. You should really be spending your energy lobbying the airline industry, asking them to stop nickel and dimming their customers for things such as checked luggage fees.

  • John

    Monkey see monkey do. Airlines raising fees, grope agents do likewise.

  • Just Joe

    I beg to disagree. LHR is the worst. I need my contacts AND my 3.5 once contact solution. It is hard to find 3 once size. The TSA allows me to carry on as a medical necessity. LHR does not. They take it away and then you have to buy in the overpriced drug store on the other side of security. If at LHR you accidentally brush the metal detector, it gives a ding. They say you accidentally touched it and then rather than letting you go through again, search everything. Seriously, I like the TSA better.

  • Just Joe

    (1) Fees for a government agency like the TSA are taxes.
    (2) If the TSA becomes self-funding through fees, there is no restraint to its growth, mission creep, ability to waste money on boondoggles (like expensive equipment like body scanners) and pay increases for all employees.
    (3) Expect such fees to increase going forward. Reference, see tolls on the George Washington bridge. Maybe better, look at
    the number of “fees” in an airplane ticket to Europe.

  • Just Joe


  • Garrigan

    Well, a terrorist is most definitely NOT the only threat to your safety in an airplane.
    Just check out the TSA blog, and see how many loaded firearms (with a bullet in the chamber, no less!) they spot every week in a carryon. Of course, the people who do this are not terrorists, nor do they have evil intent.
    But that certainly doesn’t stop the many gun fails that happen anywhere people have a gun on them.
    Also, see how many other weapons, like knives hidden in canes, credit card knives (flavour of the month), grenades, etc.
    We are a country of people who like to carry guns without taking responsibility for them, in the form of being educated in how to handle them safely.
    I thank God for TSA each and every time I go board a plane from a USA airport.

  • Garrigan

    the reason we cannot manage our finances is because we do not want to pay for anything

  • thepointsguy

    Maybe now it will be hundreds of thousands standing around?!

  • thepointsguy

    Agree that I’ve had some horrible security experiences at LHR.. slow and surly

  • Dean

    The problem is that we’re not getting any extra security in exchange for paying the extra fee. The TSA hasn’t given any indication that the money will be used in a way that benefits travelers.

  • Willie The Shake Speare

    I vote to eliminate TSA. It is full of incompetent people performing a mindless theatrical production that has little value.

  • Willie The Shake Speare


    It really should be renamed into PITA (not to be confused with PETA).

  • Willie The Shake Speare

    Charging people with more than a 4 hour connection an additional leg’s worth of fee is completely baseless.

    It’s not like they are entering and exiting security.

  • CommonSense of a DeadTrout

    > f**king asinine that we have to pay to be treated like sh*t at airports.

    Am all for dedicating an isolated wing at all airports
    to flights with absolutely NO security.
    Let the airline be called DeathWishExpress…

  • taryn is bad at addition

    Here’s the kicker … I have a math degree.

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