Common Law - The FindLaw Consumer Protection Law Blog

Airlines Will Soon Be Required to Refund Bag Fees for Delayed or Lost Luggage

New Rules being implemented by the US Department of Transportation (DOT) require airlines that charge fees for baggage handling to refund those fees for lost bags, as well as bags that are delayed. While the bill passed by congress advises that bags delayed more than 12 hours (or 15 hours for international flights) should qualify passengers for a refund of any bag fees, DOT may be able to adjust the hours when the final regulations are written.

Along with the new rules on baggage fees, airlines are now required to report all incidents of mishandling wheelchairs. In addition to this good news, measures are being considered that would require airlines and ticket agents to disclose all additional fees when listing out ticket prices for consumers.

What Prompted These Reforms?

According to one source, you can thank President Obama's executive order directing all federal agencies to work on keeping consumers better informed. In regards to the new rule on baggage fees, which seems to have become the norm in only a few short years, the new rule just makes sense. When a passenger checks a bag, especially when they pay an additional fee for the bag, it is expected that the bag will arrive in a timely fashion. Being charged for a late bag, or even worse, a lost bag, is the legal equivalent of adding insult to injury.

While airlines are liable for lost luggage, they limit their liability by contract when you purchase your ticket to a certain dollar amount. Additionally, sometimes airlines will even courier delayed luggage directly to travelers.

Not Getting Conned by Convenience

The other rules being considered by DOT are geared more towards protecting consumers at the time they purchase airline tickets. If you purchase plane tickets online, then these rules should make your purchases even easier. Airlines and ticketing agents, including booking websites, will be required to disclose all fees being charged at the time ticket prices are shown to consumers. That means when you see a flight's price, select that flight, then go to the checkout page, the price will not jump up due to the fees charged by airlines and agents.

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