Hate the TSA? You Are About to Start Paying More for It

The Transportation Security Agency will publish a regulation on Friday that will more than double the taxes paid on a typical round-trip flight to fund TSA’s much-maligned airport security operations.

Under current rules, passengers pay a “security service fee” of $2.50 per “enplanement” to help fund TSA’s operations. That’s $5 for a typical round trip between U.S. cities.

A TSA agent checks luggage as passengers arrive for flights at O’Hare International Airport May 23, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. Under a pending TSA rule, passengers will start paying more for TSA security. Scott Olson/Getty Images

But under the pending rule, passengers will pay $11.20 for a typical round trip flight between U.S. cities.

The increase was agreed to late last year as part of a House-Senate budget agreement for 2013 and 2014. While that deal between House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) was praised by some for resolving a fiscal crisis that had led to the government shutdown, it was also criticized by many Republicans for leaning on new fees, not spending cuts, to help fund the government.

The fees are likely to draw even more criticism of an agency that has seen its share of complaints relating to excessive putdowns and invasions of privacy. Some members of Congress have complained that the TSA needs to run more efficient checks on high-risk passengers, and have also tried to fight the agency from extending its security operations to airport parking lots.

On Friday, TSA will publish the rule to implement that legislation. TSA will publish an interim final rule that will take effect on July 20, and TSA said it would take comments on the rule until late August.

Under the rule, passengers will pay $5.60 for each one-way trip to fund TSA operations. A one-way trip could include one or more layovers, as long as those layovers don’t last more than four hours — once a layover last four hours or more, TSA will consider that to be the start of a new one-way trip that merits another $5.60 fee.

The rule also proposes ending a cap on TSA fees that can be charged. Under current rules, passengers face a $2.50 fee per “enplanement,” and that’s capped at $5 for a one-way trip.

But the new rule will eliminate that cap, which raises the possibility that passengers could face several $5.60 fees on a one-way trip that includes several layovers (as long as the layovers last more than four hours).

“TSA seeks comment on removal of the round-trip cap, and specifically on whether TSA should consider reinstating a cap, and if so, what the cap should be in light of the statute’s mandate that the fee be uniform,” the rule says.