NATIONAL NEWS

US Plans To Make Airlines Refund Fees If Bags Are Delayed

Jul 2, 2021, 10:39 AM
FILE PHOTO (Photo by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)...
FILE PHOTO (Photo by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)
(Photo by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)

(AP) — The Transportation Department will propose that airlines be required to refund fees on checked baggage if the bags aren’t delivered to passengers quickly enough.

The proposal, if made final after a lengthy regulation-writing process, would also require prompt refunds for fees on extras such as internet access if the airline fails to provide the service during the flight.

A department official said the agency will issue the proposal in the next several days, and it could take effect by next summer.

The proposal will require refunds if airlines fail to deliver a bag within 12 hours of the passenger’s U.S. flight touching down or within 25 hours after an international flight.

Current regulations require refunds only if bags are lost, although airlines must compensate passengers for “reasonable” incidental expenses incurred while their bags are delayed. The government does not know how often airlines keep fees even when bags are significantly delayed.

The bag-fee proposal is the first of several airline-consumer regulations coming from the Biden administration under an executive order that the president will soon sign, according to a senior Transportation Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a proposal that hasn’t been made public. The order will be designed to boost competition and give consumers more power, the official said.

Kurt Ebenhoch, executive director of Travel Fairness Now, an airline consumer organization, called the bag-fees refund “one consumer-friendly item in a long list requiring DOT action.” He said top priorities include refunds for pandemic-related cancellations, stronger rules to let families with small children sit together without paying extra, and more transparency in flight schedules and fares.

John Breyault, a vice president with the National Consumer League, said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg seems to be paying more attention to consumer issues than did Elaine Chao, who held the job during the Trump administration. But he said he would like the Biden administration to act more quickly.

“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 said.

Last year, more than 100,000 consumers complained to the government about airline service. Refunds were the biggest gripe, although most claimed airlines refused to give refunds to consumers who canceled trips because of the pandemic. The Transportation Department is seeking a $25.5 million fine against Air Canada, but has not taken action against other carriers over refunds for canceled flights.

In 2019, the last full year before the pandemic, passengers paid U.S. airlines $5.76 billion in fees on checked bags, according to the Transportation Department. That dropped to $2.84 billion last year, when travel slumped because of the pandemic. The figures do not include fees for carry-on bags.

For many years, customers could check one or two bags on almost any airline without paying a fee. That began to change during a travel slump caused by the financial crisis of 2008. Now, most U.S. airlines other than Southwest charge even for a single bag, although fees are usually waived for customers who buy high-fare tickets or carry the airline’s credit card.

American Airlines generated $2 billion from checked-bag fees over the past two years, followed by Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, each around $1.5 billion. Because of their smaller size, discount airlines including Spirit and Frontier reap less money but get a higher percentage of revenue from the fees.

___

David Koenig can be reached at www.twitter.com/airlinewriter

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

(From left) Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are pictured here in 2016's "La La Land." (Dale Robinette/L...
Alli Rosenbloom

Musical adaptation of ‘La La Land’ is dancing its way to Broadway

Get your dancing shoes ready, because "La La Land" is coming to Broadway.
1 day ago
Sailors assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group 2 recover debris from a suspected Chinese sur...
Haley Britzky

US Navy releases photos of Chinese spy balloon recovery effort

The U.S. Navy released photos Tuesday of its recovery effort of a suspected Chinese spy balloon, which U.S. fighter jets shot down over the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday.
1 day ago
Powerball's second-largest jackpot — an estimated $1.2 billion — is up for grabs Wednesday. (Ke...
Associated Press

Lucky player in Seattle suburb wins $754.6M Powerball prize

Washington state lottery officials say a single winning ticket for a $754.6 million Powerball jackpot was sold at a department store in a Seattle suburb.
1 day ago
FILE - In this image from video released and partially redacted by the city of Memphis, Tenn., Tyre...
Adrian Sainz, Associated Press

13 Memphis officers could be disciplined in Nichols case

Officials say 13 Memphis officers could end up being disciplined in connection with the violent arrest of Tyre Nichols.
1 day ago
The near-collision happened at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, seen here from the air. (Kir...
Greg Wallace and Pete Muntean

Southwest, FedEx jets came within 100 feet of collision at Texas airport, investigators say

A Southwest passenger jet and a FedEx cargo plane came as close as 100 feet from colliding Saturday at the main airport in Texas' capital, and it was a pilot — not air traffic controllers — who averted disaster, a top federal investigator says.
2 days ago
In this handout photo provided by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Nathan Lee Chasing ...
Rio Yamat, Associated Press

‘Dances With Wolves’ actor charged in Nevada sex abuse case

Former “Dances With Wolves” actor Nathan Chasing Horse has been formally charged in Nevada with eight felonies and two misdemeanors.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
US Plans To Make Airlines Refund Fees If Bags Are Delayed