Airlines may have to reimburse flyers for checked baggage delays

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It’s a frustration many frequent travelers experience – that sinking feeling when your flight arrives safely at its destination, but your checked baggage cannot be found.

Now, federal regulators are working to alleviate at least some of the irritation from this all-too-common scenario. Under a new rule proposed by the Department of Transportation, U.S. airlines should reimburse travelers’ fees when checked baggage is significantly delayed.

Current regulations state that airlines are only required to reimburse passenger baggage fees when checked baggage is lost. Under the new rules, travelers would get their money back when baggage is delayed beyond 12 hours for domestic flights and beyond 25 hours for international flights.

If passed, the new rule would be a major victory for consumers. In recent years, airlines have steadily increased fees for checked baggage, with the average price of the first checked bag reaching $ 30. American airlines have made a collective $ 5.7 billion on baggage fees in 2019, making baggage one of the most lucrative expenses in the industry. According to Bureau of Transport Statistics, nearly 2 million bags were reported as mishandled by airlines in 2018, the most recent year for which data is available.

“After years of the powerful airline industry getting everything it wants at the expense of consumers, the actions of the administration and the US Department of Transportation are a long-awaited breath of fresh air for the flying public.” , Kevin Mitchell, president and founder of the Business Travel Coalition, said in a declaration.

But it’s not just baggage reimbursements that airlines could now be required to pay for: the proposed rule would also require airlines to reimburse payments for other ancillary services they do not provide. That would include fees for perks like Wi-Fi access or advance seat selection, services that travelers could pay for, but airlines don’t end up providing.

“Consumers deserve to receive the services they pay for or get their money back when they don’t,” US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement. Release. The DOT proposal is open for a 60-day public comment period before regulators decide on final action.

The new rules were officially proposed on July 9, the same day President Biden signed a vast decree promote competition in the US economy, including the airline industry. As part of the executive order, Biden also called on DOT to improve “consumer access to airline flight information so that consumers can more easily find a wider set of available flights, including by airlines. new or lesser-known aerials “.

Biden’s order also tells DOT to submit a report on its progress in investigating airlines that have engaged in deceptive practices regarding reimbursements for flights canceled during the pandemic.

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