The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is said to be proposing a new policy that would require airlines to refund checked-baggage fees if they fail to deliver passengers their luggage quickly enough.
According to the AP, a department official disclosed that the agency would officially issue the proposal in the next several days, after it has passed through a lengthy regulation-writing process, and could take effect as soon as next summer.
Under the proposal, refunds would be required if an airline fails to deliver a passenger’s checked bags within 12 hours of touchdown for domestic flights or within 25 hours for international flights.
Current federal regulations only require airlines to refund customers these fees if their bags are lost, and the government has no information on how frequently airlines simply keep baggage fees, even when someone’s luggage is significantly delayed.
Presently, the only proviso in effect in such cases states that airlines must compensate customers for “reasonable” incidental expenditures they may make while their luggage is delayed.
The proposal also stipulates that airlines would be required to promptly refund passengers for extras like onboard internet access if the carrier fails to supply those services during the flight.
The baggage-fee refund proposal is the first multiple measures being deliberated in the White House to shield travelers from some unfair practices currently common among U.S. airlines. A senior DOT official, who spoke with the Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said that President Biden soon plans to sign an executive order putting several such consumer protection regulations into effect.
The unnamed official said the move is intended to bolster competition among carriers and give consumers more power.
The Transportation Department also intends to issue a separate proposed rule in coming months to require upfront disclosure of baggage fees, change fees and cancellation fees at the time a plane ticket is purchased.