Airlines soon may have to pay up when checked bags are delayed or they fail to provide services for which passengers paid fees, such as advance seat selection and Wi-Fi.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced on Friday a proposed rule that would require airlines to refund fees in such circumstances.
The change is a response to President Joe Biden’s latest executive order, which we detail in “6 Things That Could Get Cheaper Under Biden’s New Executive Order.”
In an announcement, DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg says:
“Consumers deserve to receive the services they pay for or to get their money back when they don’t. This proposed rule would require airlines to refund fees to passengers whose bags are significantly delayed or who don’t receive the services that they paid for.”
Under a current DOT rule, consumers already are entitled to fee refunds when their checked bags are lost. The new proposed rule goes further, requiring airlines to refund checked baggage fees when baggage is delayed beyond 12 hours for domestic flights and beyond 25 hours for international flights.
The DOT estimates that this change alone could save travelers between $10.7 million and $11.4 million annually
Under the proposed rule, airlines also would be required to refund any fees paid for optional services whenever the airline fails to actually provide the services. That also goes further than the current rule, which mandates that airlines must refund fees for optional services not provided due to oversale situations or flight cancellations.
Before the proposed rule can become a final rule, the public will have a chance to comment on it. A 60-day comment period will begin once the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register, which had yet to happen as of Monday afternoon.
Once the comment period begins, anyone may comment on this proposal via Regulations.gov, which is the federal government’s official rulemaking website.
This is not the first time that Biden has been part of an administration that sought more refunds for delayed baggage. In late 2016, when Biden was vice president, the DOT proposed such a rule. However, that particular proposed rule fell by the wayside after the trade group Airlines for America requested and was granted a 48-day extension of the comment period.
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