Skip to content


Shaheen, Colleagues, Continue to Urge Spirit to Reverse Decision to Charge $45 for Overhead Carry-on Bags

(Washington, DC) - U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen announced today that the CEOs of five major airlines have committed to not charge passengers for carry-on luggage.  Commitments were received from American, Delta, JetBlue, United, and US Airways.  The announcement comes after a competing airline recently announced it would soon begin charging passengers a whopping $45 for overhead carry-on luggage, prompting Shaheen and five of her Senate colleagues to take action.

"Consumers are tired of being nickel and dimed by airlines, and the announcement that an airline was going to start charging to bring an overhead carry-on bag - a necessary part of travel for most people - was the straw that broke the camel's back," said Shaheen.  "I am pleased that these airline CEOs have responded to our effort to make sure that consumers are able to make an informed choice when they travel instead of worrying about hidden fees that mask the true cost of travel."

Last week, Shaheen, along with several of her Senate colleagues, announced new legislation to confront airlines that would sock travelers with new fees for carry-on luggage. The Block Airlines' Gratuitous Fees Act, or the BAG Fees Act, is designed to nip this new practice at its inception and restore basic fairness to air travelers. The legislation would confront the carry-on baggage fee by designating carry-on baggage as a necessity for air travelers.

Airlines currently pay a 7.5-cent tax to the federal government for every dollar they collect in fares, but no tax is imposed on fees collected for non-essential services. Last January, the Treasury Department issued a ruling that deemed carry-on bags as non-essential for air travel. As a result, airlines can impose fees on these bags without paying any tax to the federal government on the revenues they collect. This creates a tax incentive for airlines to try to bilk consumers in the form of fees rather than fares. If this tax loophole regarding carry-on bags did not exist, the airlines would likely not seek to charge travelers for this baggage.  

Since the inception of commercial air travel, customers have always been given the opportunity to bring one carry-on bag with them to store in the overhead compartment without fear of being charged an additional fee. Carry-on luggage is particularly essential for weekend travelers, day trippers, and overnighters. The new fee will greatly add to the cost of travel for both business and leisure travelers. Families with children will also be hurt, as parents almost always need a carry-on item in order to store vital items like medicine, baby formula, or diapers.

"I am hopeful today's announcement will encourage other airlines to join these five in pledging not to charge for carry-on luggage," added Shaheen.