American Airlines was the first to charge for checked bags, during the Great Recession. Now checked bag fees are big business. They represent billions in revenue. That means shifting money out of the ticket price and into ancillary fees which are subject to federal excise taxes. And it’s a motivator for some to get co-brand credit cards or earn elite status, waiving these charges.
- However when an airline charges for the service and fails to deliver it, the customer is mostly stuck.
- Airlines currently have to refund bag fees for actual lost bags, but not for delayed bags.
When you pay for a big the implied service is that it will be delivered to baggage claim when your flight lands. Delta and Alaska both compensate customers when bags aren’t delivered within 20 minutes of arrival. Alaska pioneered this and Delta competes aggressively with them in Seattle. United, American and Southwest do not have similar programs.
Sometimes bags don’t get loaded, don’t make a connection, or get sent to the wrong city. Sometimes during a labor action this even happens intentionally. Airlines haven’t delivered the product they’ve charged for, but aren’t required to issue refunds.
You’ll generally get some money or assistance with short-term needs from the airline when traveling away from home. Some credit cards offer delayed baggage protection, generally up to $100 per day in necessities for up to 5 days.
The Biden administration plans to crack down to require refund of fees when bags are delayed for over 12 hours.
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.
Canada’s consumer protection rules, which U.S. airlines comply with on flights to Canada, already requires refund of baggage charges for luggage delayed, lost or damaged.
The Department of Transportation proposed rulemaking is expected to cover refund of other fees for services that an airline charges for but doesn’t deliver, such as payment for inflight internet when the service is unusable. It’s a good thing that United’s aircraft order and fleet retrofit plans come with upgrading internet, because of the major carriers they’re the biggest offender here.