Hawaii, Alaska seek exemption from TSA fee hike


US Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii has introduced a bill to amend the Bipartisan Budget Act to exempt certain flights from increased aviation security services fees.

Passed in December, the Bipartisan Budget Act included a provision that calls for the increase in TSA security fees from $2.50 per flight ($5 for a multi-leg flight) to $5.60 per flight (regardless of connections). These fees go to financing the operations of the TSA, and the administration has been calling for an increase for a couple of years in its budgets.

What Hirono’s bill would do is maintain the current $2.50/$5 fee level for passengers travelling in Hawaii and Alaska. This is consistent with how Hawaii and Alaska are treated in relation to other aviation fees (Passenger Facility Fees are one example). The rationale is that since constituents don’t have options other than flying between the islands (or around Alaska), they are impacted more than people on the mainland when fees like this are increased.

Also, a lot of travel in Hawaii and Alaska is intrastate, not interstate, so some legislators believe it is a little unfair to charge the same fee levels for people in these two states that need air transportation just to get around. Hirono’s bill, which has been read twice and referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, has been co-sponsored by three individuals – Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Senator Mark Begich of Alaska and senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii.