The Price We Pay For Letting Bandits Control Our Skies

Spirit Airlines provides a comprehensive breakdown of pricing costs for a round trip flight from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas:

Flight Price: $215.98

Base Fare: $174.82

  • Flight: $126.84
  • Unintended Consequences of DOT Regulations: $4.00
  • Passenger Usage Fee: $33.98
  • Exchange Fee: $10.00

Fuel: $41.16

Government’s Cut: $129.52

  • US-International Departure Tax $35.00
  • MX-Tourism Tax: $23.58
  • Security Fee: $5.60
  • Passenger Facility Fee: $4.50
  • MX -TUA: $43.34
  • US APHIS Fee: $5.00
  • US Immigration Fee: $7.00
  • US Customs Fee: $5.50

Grand Total: $345.50

So around 40% of this ticket cost was incurred due to the bandits.

Of course, this ignores the opportunity cost of regulation.  A little known app called AirPooler allows people to find private pilots who are flying to the same destination they wish to travel to, and then pay the pilot for a portion of fuel costs incurred, while they get to ride along for free.

According to the FAA, this is a heresy against the state.  The FAA issued a ruling saying this practice is illegal because it considers the pilot to be engaging in a for-profit commercial enterprise, which requires a difficult to obtain commercial certification.

So, in summary, the FAA considers licensed private pilots safe enough to fly around the country, with passengers, as long as they are non-paying passengers.  Should any of the passengers pay for fuel costs, the pilot suddenly becomes unsafe and requires additional regulation to ensure that he is safe.  Apparently cost sharing makes people unsafe.

Further, the FAA’s definition of profit is something only a bureaucrat could come up with.  Apparently the FAA considers cost sharing as profit.  Last time I checked, profit was considered to be anything above and beyond the cost of doing business.  I’m sure someday the FAA’s arcane interpretation of profit will be seized upon by the broader class of banditry that supposedly “runs” this country.

But getting back to the point.  The price of all flights would be cheaper if AirPooler type applications were allowed to flourish.  Less people would fly commercial, reducing demand for commercial seats (which, of course, means less tax revenue for the bandits).