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Per the Associated Press, department officials say the agency is expected to issue the proposal in the coming days, hoping for it to be implemented by summer 2022. If the proposal is made official, however long that could take, airlines will be expected to issue refunds if a customer’s bag isn’t delivered to them within 12 hours of their U.S. flight touching down. Airlines would also be required to issue refunds on any extras that an airline could fail to provide during a customer’s flight, such as internet access, for example.
Current baggage regulations for airlines dictate that refunds are only required if anything is lost, which also dictates that passengers will be compensated for “reasonable” incidental expenses during such a delay. As of right now, the government has no way of telling how often airlines keep hold of baggage fees regardless of significant delays. According to one anonymous Transportation Department official, this is the first of a number of new airline regulations expected to come from Biden’s administration.
In 2020 alone, a year that saw less people traveling than ever before, over 100,000 customers complained about airline service to the government, with refunds the most consistently cited issue. Just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, in 2019, passengers reportedly paid $5.76 billion in baggage fees to U.S. airlines, whereas that figure was less than half as high in 2020 at $2.84 billion. Airlines typically offered free checked-in baggage before the global financial crisis of 2007-08 prompted airlines to start charging for such a service.