Airlines Should Check One Bag for Free: Report

Travel Association suggestions to streamline air travel

By Liz Crenshaw
|  Tuesday, Mar 22, 2011  |  Updated 3:36 PM EDT
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All flyers should be allowed to check one bag for free.

That’s what the U.S. Travel Association is recommending Wednesday to streamline the process to get flyers to their planes. The association and a panel of travel and security experts unveiled a plan Wednesday to improve security at airports and reduce the burden on travelers. The plan also calls for the creation of a trusted traveler program.

The U.S. Travel Association says new research shows travelers are avoiding two to three trips per year because of hassles associated with the screening process. It says these avoided trips come at a cost of $85 billion and 900,000 jobs to the U.S. economy.

The report also concludes that because of the new $20 to $100 fees airlines are charging for checked bags, more flyers are carrying on luggage.  More carry-ons have translated to longer wait times at security checkpoints.

The panel created by the U.S. Travel Association included former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, former congressmen, former officials of TSA, and representatives from airlines and airports.

Among the panels recommendations is for Congress to authorize TSA to implement a voluntary, government-run trusted traveler program. To encourage fewer carry-on bags it says the Department of Transportation should require airlines to allow all passengers one checked bag as part of their base airfare.

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