Airlines may soon have to reimburse travelers if their luggage is late

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Travelers whose luggage does not arrive on time could be reimbursed for fees charged for these items by airlines at the proposal of the Biden administration.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) is finalizing the proposal and plans to announce full details in the coming days, according to the Associated Press. The rule would come into effect next summer.

A spokesperson for the department told AP the plan would require reimbursement of all charges for baggage that does not arrive within 12 hours of a plane landing on domestic flights and 25 hours on flights. international.

Current regulations require that airlines only issue refunds if baggage is lost, although some airlines have their own expense reimbursement policies. The DOT proposal would make it mandatory.

A DOT spokesperson said the proposal was one of several proposed by the White House to empower consumers. It also provides mandatory refunds for paid Wi-Fi service if the airline does not provide it during a flight.

Travel Fairness Now, an airline consumer organization, supports the plan. Executive Director Kurt Ebenhoch called it “a user-friendly item in a long list requiring DOT action.”

Ebenhoch said his group is also demanding refunds for cancellations linked to the pandemic, stricter rules on family seats and the reinstatement of passenger rights.

“There are a multitude of opportunities for the new administration to begin to restore the balance, to put consumers first and to level the scales among stakeholders,” the group said.

A DOT official told CNN that several other proposals are in the works, including a rule that would require airlines to notify consumers of all baggage, change and cancellation charges before selling them a ticket.

“This disclosure would prevent families from being paid hidden airfare and make it easier for families to compare flight options to get the best tickets available,” the official told CNN.

Airlines complaints to the DOT have exploded over the past year, with more than 100,000 complaints filed in 2020. This is six times more than in 2019. Over 87% of these concerned fresh.

Baggage, change and cancellation fees totaled more than $ 8 billion in 2019, according to DOT figures.

John Breyault, vice president of the National Consumer League, is encouraged by the proposals and the early efforts of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. But his organization wants to see results, and at a faster pace.

“The proof will be in the pudding whether this DOT will make consumer protection a real priority after four years of benign neglect at best and active regulatory sabotage at worst,” Breyault told AP.

For more on the state of travel, check out all of our travel news coverage here.

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