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Blumenthal urges airlines to waive baggage fees for the summer to speed up lines

WINDSOR LOCKS –  With the busy summer travel season approaching, Senator Richard Blumenthal and Massachusetts Senator Edward Markey have a message for the...
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WINDSOR LOCKS -  With the busy summer travel season approaching, Senator Richard Blumenthal and Massachusetts Senator Edward Markey have a message for the airlines: Ditch the checked baggage fees for the season.

They say that will result in fewer carry-on bags, and therefore shorter lines at security checkpoints.

In a letter to 12 airline executives last Tuesday, both lawmakers called for an end to charging bag fees during the busy summer months to speed up inspections and clear up long lines.

They argue that the TSA says that baggage fees mean 27% more carry-on bags, which then cause longer lines.

The letter comes in response the administration’s recently announced agenda to tackle wait times, including limiting the size and number of carry-on bags and adding more officers and bomb-sniffing dogs.

Blumenthal says that plan, which includes hiring more people, won’t resolve the issue, and certainly not before peak travel season this year.

Jean Medina, spokeswoman for the nations’ biggest airlines, says the senators’ proposal is a misguided attempt to re-regulate airlines, and warns that it could make airfare prices go up to offset the loss-of-revenue from the fees. According to government figures, last year checked baggage fees brought in $3.8 billion.

Medina is urging travelers to instead sign up for TSA PreCheck, a program which allows registered travelers go through security checkpoints faster without having to take off their shoes, jackets or remove laptops. Last week, she encouraged travelers to post pictures of long lines on social media using the hashtag #ihatethewait.