Sen. Menendez takes on baggage fees

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) took on airline surcharges Monday, just as some airlines began charging a $20 "holiday surcharge," for travel between Thanksgiving and New Year's, in addition to the already hefty baggage, meal, facility, leg room, pet, and fuel surcharges that have become common in recent years.

Speaking at Newark International Airport's Terminal B, Menendez said he would choose one of the "holiday surcharge" days to reintroduce legislation, called The Clear Airfares Act, which would require airlines to offer travelers a clear accounting of all the fees they're being charged above the original ticket price. Menendez first introduced the bill last year.

"Trying to navigate through the different components in your airfare is like an airline pilot trying to land a plane in a thunderstorm without electronic instruments or a map," he said. "It’s technically possible, but it sure isn’t easy."

As airline analyst Mike Boyd pointed out in The Star-Ledger that one of the fees — a $4.50 passenger facility charge — makes up for the loss of money that was originally placed in a congressional trust fund to rebuild airports, but was "spent elsewhere by Congress."

"Congress’ hands aren’t particularly clean here, either," he said.

Look for Menendez to take to the floor in mid-to-late December, when the highest numbers of airlines will have holiday surcharges in place.