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It's a forlorn sight, the last passengers standing at the baggage carousel waiting for their bag to appear. If you are one of the unlucky travelers whose checked baggage doesn’t show up at the carousel, it's more than likely you'll head home without your bags in tow.
With the majority of airlines now charging for the privilege of checking a bag, you have every right to expect that checked baggage fee to be refunded when your luggage doesn’t show at the other end. And while you can currently apply to the airline for compensation on delayed baggage, it can involve a lengthy and drawn out process, and typically, results in the carrier issuing a travel voucher instead of refunding the baggage fees paid.
Well, that is about to change. Per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a new measure signed into law this month will require airlines to automatically refund checked baggage fees when luggage is delayed.
U.S. Sen. John Thune, chairperson of the Senate Commerce Committee, commented on the new laws in the Senate this month that, “passengers won’t have to spend a ton of time tracking down a refund when the airline doesn’t deliver.”
New Laws Will Require Airlines To Automatically Refund Checked Baggage Fees
The new regulations will demand that airlines “promptly provide to a passenger an automated refund for any ancillary fees paid by the passenger for checked baggage,” when passengers are not reunited with their baggage within 12 hours of touching down for a domestic flight, and 15 hours for international flights. Yes, 12 and 15 hours may seem excessive, but it is certainly better than what currently exists!
Although the refund is to be automatic, the article goes on to state “the passenger would need to notify the airline of the lost or delayed baggage to get the refund.” So, the process will remain much the same as it is now, but should result in an automatic refund rather than today's drawn out process that ends in flight vouchers at best.
The new laws are part of a Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization extension bill signed into law this month. The bill also directs the U.S. Transportation Secretary to publish new regulations within the next 12 months.
The new laws are a welcome addition for U.S. travelers, with lost and delayed baggage one of the leading points of frustration and anxiety for airline passengers. Airlines are making billions of dollars profit per year from the baggage fees we pay, and laws that force them to return those fees when they fail to provide the service we pay for will result in:
- A pain-free refund of ancillary fees paid by passengers for delayed baggage
- Airlines will be forced to improve their baggage handling processes as it will now cost them real money when they get it wrong
That is an all-around win for flyers.
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