Congress has been so focused on tackling the debt ceiling crisis that it failed to re-authorize a Federal Aviation Administration tax to pay for airport improvement projects.
That means anyone who bought an airline ticket before last Friday but flew after that time is due a refund.
Who pays that refund is still—up in the air.
The FAA tax amounts to about ten percent of every round trip ticket bought or an average of between $35 and $50. That may seem insignificant to some, but to airlines that can mean big bucks.
Delta Airlines estimates it paid between $4 and $5 million a day on the tax. Since it no longer has to pay the tax, the airline is now pocketing that same amount. While most airlines no longer pay the tax, they have not lowered the tax amount passengers pay when they bought their tickets.
Alaska Airlines is among the few airlines that have lowered their ticket prices to reflect the price the airline no longer pays in FAA taxes.
The last time congress failed to re-authorize this tax, for nine months back in 1996 and for three months in 1997, according to J.P. Morgan Chase, “The airlines revenue improved significantly.”