Fliers Want Fees Refunded If Bags Delayed, Not Just Lost - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Fliers Want Fees Refunded If Bags Delayed, Not Just Lost

USATODAY.COM - Frequent business traveler Barry Maher says airlines have lost his checked bags so frequently that he's lost count.

Maher and many other frequent fliers say airlines should be required to refund checked-baggage fees when passengers arrive at their destinations without their bags.

"It's the least they could do," says Maher, a professional speaker in Corona, Calif. "I can lose my own bags for free. I don't need to pay someone else to do it."

Unfortunately for Maher and other fliers — including many who dislike the bag fees that annually bring in billions of dollars for airlines — new government passenger-protection measures that take effect next month come up short for most passengers whose bags are lost.

The measures are part of a set of rules that will expand to foreign airlines a ban on lengthy tarmac delays, provide greater compensation to passengers involuntarily bumped from flights and force airlines to disclose hidden fees

In April, the Transportation Department announced that the new rule "will require airlines to reimburse passengers for baggage fees if their bags are lost."

A closer look at the 59-page rule, though, reveals that airlines must only refund checked-bag fees for bags that are lost and never returned to passengers.

That's a small percentage of mishandled bags.

The Air Transport Association of America, a trade group representing major U.S. airlines, says it doesn't know what percentage of mishandled bags are lost and never returned.

American Airlines spokesman Tim Smith says the number of bags mishandled and never returned by American is "considerably less than one-tenth of 1%" of total bags handled.

Globally, the world's airlines last year mishandled 12.07 bags for every 1,000 passengers and didn't recover 0.43 bags per 1,000 fliers, according to a 2011 report by SITA, a technology company owned by the world's airlines. >>>CLICK HERE TO READ MORE

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