If your wallet feels a little lighter after paying for a slew of plane flights, don't blame the TSA agents who gave you pat-downs; their parent organization is responsible. The Transportation Security Administration fee increase approved in December takes effect today, affecting all passengers with flights originating in the United States.
The TSA used to charge $2.50 for nonstop flights and $5 for connecting flights, but all flights now come with a $5.60 fee. The fees go toward a general treasury fund that, in part, supports the TSA's effort to keep air passengers safe. The increase might help the TSA raise $16.9 billion more than current collections to offset $12.6 billion of the federal deficit.
When you're prepared to drop $500 on a round-trip ticket, single-digit increases might seem annoying but negligible. However, the document outlining the change redefined the idea of a single flight: Any time connecting flights are separated by four or more hours (or 12 or more hours if you're flying intrastate in, or starting in, noncontinental states such as Alaska and Hawaii), each leg is classified as a one-way flight and charged individually. Flights originating internationally cannot be charged the fee.
So, if you're heading round-trip from Cleveland to Seattle with a stopover in Chicago both coming and going, that's four individual flights. The fees start to add up for frequent fliers, and those connecting flights might not be significantly better deals anymore.
The fee is a sure thing, but feel free to tell the TSA how you feel about it through August 19 by sending comments through the department's contact page.