Federal Budget Deal Might Include Higher Air Travel Taxes

Brace yourselves for higher airline ticket fees, maybe. In Congress, budget negotiators are trying to craft a deal that would keep the government running and avoid automatic spending cuts without raising taxes. But lawmakers say the deal may include higher user fees, among them, a doubling of the security fee air passengers pay – from $2.50 per flight segment to $5.

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Alaska Congressman Don Young says it’s not fair to his constituents.

“We don’t have any highways.  We fly more,” Young said. “There’s really no way we can get around without air, so we’ll be the heaviest taxed, and by the way, again I think that’s unconstitutional.”

He says such an increase should go through the normal congressional committee process, not come locked in as part of a budget bill.

“I’m inclined not to vote for it now [if] that type thing is in the bill,” Young said.

It’s unclear whether negotiators will be able to reach a budget agreement, without or without the air travel fee hike, but the airline industry is fighting back hard. They had leafleteers at the airport nearest the U.S. Capitol this week, handing out airsickness bags with their message on them.

“Are higher taxes on air travel making you sick?”

They say taxes on a typical $300 round trip fare already come to more than $60.

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Liz Ruskin covers Alaska’s congressional delegation, federal agency decisions that shape life in the 49th state, money in politics and elections. She has deep roots in Alaska and this is her third stint in Washington, a city she has grown to love.

She was born in Anchorage and is a West High graduate. She studied political science at the University of Washington and has an M.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri in Columbia. During graduate school, she moved to Washington to intern as a D.C. correspondent. But for her first real journalism job, she moved back to Alaska to work at the Homer News. She was there for three years before taking a job at the Anchorage Daily News. Over the course of nine years in Anchorage, she covered City Hall, courts, state politics, and Native and rural affairs.

Then, in April 2001, she moved back to Washington to work in McClatchy Newspaper’s D.C. bureau as a correspondent for the Anchorage paper. She stayed in the position for five years.

She took a year off for a journalism fellowship at the University of Colorado in Boulder, then freelanced for several years from the U.K. and Japan, in print and radio.

When a vacancy occurred in APRN’s one-person Washington bureau, she jumped at the opportunity. Liz has been APRN’s Washington, D.C. correspondent since October 2013.

lruskin (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  | About Liz