Airlines under scrutiny for mishandled baggage

Airlines under scrutiny for mishandled baggage
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The Department of Transportation will increase penalties for airlines that mishandle passengers' baggage by up to $100, the agency said Tuesday.

Airlines that lose, damage or delay luggage will be liable for reimbursing the passenger who owns it for up to $3,500, an increase from the current limit of $3,400, according to the Transportation Department.

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The department noted there were 1.8 million instances of passengers filing claims for mishandled baggage in 2013, the most recent year for which data is available. Of those passengers, 10,266 filed claims of more than $3,400 against the airline.

The agency estimates this change will cost airlines about $1 million each year.

The department is also increasing the penalties incurred when airlines deny boarding to passengers because a flight is overbooked and the airline is not able to find people willing to give up seats.

Many of these passengers who are involuntarily denied boarding would be eligible for between $675 and $1,350 in compensation for the inconvenience.

The agency noted that about 57,000 passengers were involuntarily denied boarding in 2013.

The rules go into effect in 90 days.