For the longest of times, when we book domestic (or international tickets originating in the US) award tickets, we are used to seeing the cost as being $2.50 per segment. So, for a round-trip tickets with a connection, the total cost for an award ticket sits at $10 per person. That is a pretty low price to pay for a “free” ticket (when combined with the award miles, of course).
Higher TSA Fees Coming Next Month
But all of that is set to change, from just a little bit to a significant amount. The TSA announces the rule change today that they had worked out with Congress last year. The rule is set to effect in 30 days. The change is that the cost for this fee will go from $2.50 per segment to (so $5 for a one-way trip requiring a connection) to a flat $5.60 per each leg of a trip (so, a round-trip would cost $11.20). In addition to that, they will also be putting an additional $5.60 fee for any connection lasting longer than 4 hours. So, if you have longer layovers on your flights, you could see your “free” award ticket going from $10 round-trip to $22.40 (if you have a long layover in each direction).
Obviously, we try to minimize layovers, but sometimes we cannot help it when dealing with decreased award availability. Consider this – our family of 5 traveling domestically on an award ticket would face a new total of $56 for a trip like we took earlier this month to Washington (which only cost us $25 round-trip). In addition, it can be difficult to find domestic award space on prime flights for a family of 5 (or even one of 4) so that could require some of our trips to have the more unattractive longer layovers. In those situations, we would face another $28 for each direction that required a longer layover. In a worse-case-scenario, our family (if we had long layovers in each direction) could see our total in award fees go from $50 roundtrip to $112! I know it is not just about our family but I did want to illustrate how this comes out in real money for families.
Sure, it is just a little more and we are paying a lot less than buying tickets, but seeing any additional rise in fees is never something that we like. Of course, this new fee will not just be assessed on award tickets but on paid flights as well. On those flights, it will not be as noticeable as it is on award tickets.