The Department of Transportation is likely to put out a proposal requiring airlines to refund passengers checked baggage fees on U.S. flights if they don’t receive their luggage within 12 hours after their plane lands. For passengers on international flights, the time allowance would be within 25 hours of their flight landing.
Customers would also have to be refunded for other costs including internet service if they can’t receive these services during the flight. This proposal will go through the regulation-writing process before it can be finalized, according to The Hill.
This proposal is ecpected to be released within a few days and might be in effect by summer 2022. The Biden administration may create other regulations involving airlines and customers, according to a DOT official who spoke with the AP.
Under current DOT policy, passengers must be refunded for checked baggage fees if the airline reports the baggage lost. Also, passengers are entitled to refunds for inflight WiFi and upgrades only if a passenger’s flight is cancelled or delayed.
For years, passengers could check one or two bags on most airlines without paying a fee. This changed during a travel downturn due to the financial crisis of 2008. Now, most airlines except Southwest charge for all bags although fees can be waived for higher cost tickets or those who have the airline’s credit card. American Airlines generated about $2 billion from checked-bag fees over the past two years. Delta and United Airlines each received about $1.5 billion. Discount carriers including Spirit receive less money but can get a higher percent of revenue from the fees. These numbers do not include carry-on bag fees.
ABC reported that last year, over 100,000 consumers complained to the U.S. government about airlines and refunds were the biggest issue. One of the most common complaints was that airlines refused to offer refunds to customers who cancelled trips because of the pandemic. The Transportation Department is pursuing a $25.5 million fine against Air Canada but has not gone after other airlines for cancelled flights.
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