The president of the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Travel Association said a proposal in the latest Congressional budget deal that would hike the Aviation Passenger Security Fee should be used to benefit air travelers and not as a way to simply fund the Transportation Security Administration functions.
"Our hope is that the new funding structure will be used to perceptibly enhance TSA functions," said Roger Dow, president of the group.
He listed improvements in the PreCheck program, additional and acceleration of TSA's other risk-based screening programs and boosting funding for redress programs as ones that should be examined if fees are raised.
"User fees certainly have their place," said Dow. "The transportation sphere is full of them. But a proper user fee must ultimately benefit the user, and it remains to be seen whether the air passenger experience will improve under the fee measures in the Congressional budget blueprint. It is concerning that the move appears primarily aimed at getting a big chunk of Transportation Security Administration funding off the strapped federal ledger, when there is agreement across the ideological spectrum that national security is fundamentally the responsibility of the federal government."
Dow said his group was heartened that leaders of both parties took a major step toward restoring stability to the overall budget process. The recent shutdown hurt the travel industry.