Transportation Department to require airlines refund bag fees on delayed baggage

Transportation Department to require airlines refund bag fees on delayed baggage
© Greg Nash

The Department of Transportation (DOT) is expected to put out a proposal that would require airlines to refund passengers for checked baggage fees if an airline doesn’t deliver the bags to passengers soon enough, The Associated Press reported

The proposal would require airlines to refund fees on checked baggage to customers on U.S. flights if they do not receive their items within 12 hours after landing. For customers on international flights, the time frame would be within 25 hours after their flight lands.

Additionally, the proposal would require customers to be refunded for other expenses like internet service if they’re unable to receive such services during the flight. The proposal must go through a regulation-writing process before it can be made final, according to the AP.

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A department official told the AP that the proposal is slated to come out in the next few days and could go into effect as soon as summer 2022.

A senior DOT official told the AP that the Biden administration is looking at several other regulations focused on airlines and consumers.

Current guidance by the DOT says passengers must be refunded for checked baggage fees if the airline says their bag has been lost. Additionally, the department says passengers are entitled to a refund for things like in-flight Wi-Fi and seat upgrades if a passenger’s flight was canceled, delayed or rescheduled.

In 2019 alone, passengers paid about $5.75 million in baggage fees. In 2020, customers paid about $2.8 million, though some of this was caused by the pandemic with fewer people traveling. 

The AP reported that the government received more than 100,000 customer complaints in 2020 about airline service, much of it focused on refunds.

The Hill has reached out to DOT for comment.