US Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has condemned airlines’ decision to restrict low-fare travellers from using the overhead baggage bin on their aircraft, hinting that he will seek to prohibit the practice with legislation.
Schumer noted that two major US airlines, United and American, have now started charging passengers extra for the privilege to carry bags onboard, and called it “inevitable” that others would follow suit, CBS News/Associated Press reported.
“You don’t have to know how to read the tea leaves to see that when it comes to new airline fees, the future looks turbulent for consumers,” Schumer said. “Yet again, and as predicted, another major airline just made it harder for everyday consumers to fly by banning the free use of the overhead bin for some travellers.”
“The airlines that have adopted this policy should hit the eject on this plan and allow free use of the overhead bin for all fare classes and for all customers,” Schumer said, adding that he will seek an expansion of the Airline Passenger Bill of Rights to address the issue.
“I’m going to lead a push to … add provisions so they don’t allow these extra fees for the overhead and for some other things — because enough is enough,” Schumer said in remarks reported by AM New York.
“Jet fuel prices are low; competition is narrow because there are so few airlines. Profits are way up and they’re gouging the consumer.”
American Airlines, which introduced its “basic economy” fares last week, said the pay-as-you-go policy on carry on bags would allow the airline to compete with no-frills fares offered by competitors like Spirit Airways, and also ease demand for overhead-bin space.