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Bill Takes Aim at Baggage Fees

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- Congress hasn't been very popular lately, but a bill just introduced in the Senate will surely have a lot of air travelers smiling.

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) announced this week that she's introduced a bill that would cut off one of the airlines' biggest revenue streams: baggage fees. The Airline Passengers BASICS ACT would require every U.S. airline to accept a single checked bag and a carry-on free of charge. As it stands now, every major carrier save Southwest (LUV) and JetBlue (JBLU) charges a baggage fee for the first checked bag, with the fee ranging from $20 to as much as $35 each way. On top of that, one airline, Spirit, charges $45 for a carry-on bag.

A senator has introduced legislation that would require all airlines to drop fees for the first checked bag.

The announcement came Tuesday, right before one of the biggest travel days of the year, and many already-stressed travelers are surely stewing about the various fees tacked on to their ticket prices.

"When an airline advertises a flight, that is how much it should cost, plain and simple," said Landrieu in a statement. "Passengers should not be charged additional fees for checked or carry-on baggage, drinkable water or other reasonable requests."

While that will certainly sound reasonable to travelers, expect airlines to fight this one tooth and nail. Airlines made more than $4 billion in fees last year, a haul that was largely responsible for getting the industry back in the black. Even Southwest would probably rather not see this go through, given that the airline has hung its hat on its fee-friendly ways.

In other words, don't be surprised if industry opposition kills the proposed law before it has a chance to get off the ground.

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