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DOT Preparing Bag Fee Refund Policy?

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After hinting at it for months, the Department of Transportation (DOT) may finally be ready to issue a policy requiring airlines refund bag fees for late or lost bags.

According to the Associated Press, “The government will release details of the [bag fee] rule later this month but has yet to say when it would go into effect.

“The rule will address baggage as well as other proposed changes, including payments to bumped passengers, no-penalty cancellations and improved fee disclosure.”

The bag fee rule is part of a much larger set of consumer protection proposals laid out last June. Those proposals included changes to bumping policy, tarmac delay restrictions, fare and fee transparency, and even peanut allergies. Most issues were addressed with far more specificity than bag fees.

Here’s what the DOT proposed:

Delivering baggage on time—The airline must make “every reasonable effort” to deliver mishandled bags within 24 hours; it must compensate passengers for reasonable expenses caused by the delay.

Of course, even a vague, relatively common sense suggestion such as that was enough to draw the airlines’ ire.

The Air Transport Association, in its comments on the proposal, said bag fees would raise fares, and argued that bag fees are optional and that customers can choose not to pay them.

Much depends on the shape of the final rule, but for consumers, the hope is for some sort of refund or voucher when bags are late or lost.

Airlines would probably prefer a voucher to a refund, and perhaps that’s a fair compromise.

Either way, we’ll know soon.

Readers, what do you think is fair compensation for late or lost bags?

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