FACT CHECK: Did Airlines In The US Implement Baggage Fees As A Result Of 9/11?

Mecca Fowler | Contributor

An image shared on Instagram claims airlines implemented baggage fees as a result of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.


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A post shared by Free Roots (@freerootsproject)

Verdict: False

Many U.S. airlines began charging first and second checked baggage fees in 2008, due to higher fuel costs and a decrease in air travel from the Great Recession.

Fact Check:

Air travel in the United States changed significantly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to Spectrum News. The formation of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) added tougher luggage screenings, safety screening for all passengers and more detailed screening of foreign nationals seeking to operate aircraft over 12,500 pounds, CNN reported.

Some social media users began posting about changes in air travel since the attacks in wake of the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001. One such Instagram post features a screen grab of an Aug. 28 tweet reading, “For 20 years the nation has been paying the ‘temporary’ baggage fees first billed as a way to help the Airline industry bounce back after the Sept. 11 attacks.”

Baggage fees were not, however, implemented by airlines as a result of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The travel industry was affected by the 2007-2009 economic recession, with travel decreasing and fares increasing, The New York Times reported in 2008. A sharp increase in fuel prices in 2008 also affected the price of travel, according to a 2012 Office of Inspector General report.

A 2010 report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) about airline fees further explains that the fees came as a result of the Great Recession. The report reads, in part, “In response to these economic challenges, airlines began in 2008 to charge for many services for which separate charges did not previously exist. These services include fees for a first or second checked bag, early boarding, seat selection and meals.”

The GAO report notes that prior to 2008, baggage fees were typically only implemented for overweight baggage or for passengers who checked a third bag.

Peter Belobaba, professor and researcher of air transportation economics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, confirmed in an email to Check Your Fact that Sept. 11, 2001 was not the cause of the baggage fees.

“US airlines started charging bag fees in 2008. This had nothing to do with 9/11,” Belobaba said. (RELATED: Facebook Post Makes False Claim About 9/11 Terrorist Attacks)

“Baggage fees had nothing do with 9/11 at all. Domestic bag fees for the 1st and 2nd bags were not implemented until 2008 during the Great Recession,” Brett Snyder, president of travel service Cranky Concierge, told Check Your Fact. “Delta first implemented the 2nd bag fee, and then American followed shortly after with the 1st bag fee.”

American Airlines was the first major U.S. carrier to announce it would charge fees for all checked bags due to a surge in fuel prices, according to the Los Angeles Times. Shortly after, other U.S. airlines followed suit and added similar baggage fees as well, The New York Times reported.

Mecca Fowler