Most of the time, checked baggage for most airline passengers arrives at their destination with them and those that don’t usually turn up quickly. However, Congress might mandate that airlines compensate people for delayed baggage.
Rare but inconvenient
One of the most dreaded situations one might encounter while traveling by plane, aside from airplane food, is delayed or lost baggage. Nothing can quite induce fear and loathing into the heart of the weary traveler like their bags not showing up.
Mercifully, though, it is relatively rare. Airlines, according to Time magazine, reported more than 1.9 million bags were “mishandled” in 2011. Mishandled means several things, including bags that were delayed, lost, stolen or damaged.
The latest data from the Department of Transportation, collected in April but published in June, revealed 125,755 reports of mishandled baggage for the month of April, a rate of 2.63 reports per 1,000 passengers, a significant decline from April 2011 when there were 3.30 mishandled bags per 1,000 passengers.
Overall, according to ABC, mishandled baggage is at it’s lowest rates ever recorded. However, Congress believes some compensation could be in order for people whose bags are mishandled.
Unreasonable delays deserve recompense
A Government Accountability Office report, according to Time, notes that airlines have to compensate passengers if their bags are completely lost. If that happens, they can provide up to $3,300 in restitution. However, for bags that are delayed for hours, days or weeks, any recompense is at the discretion of the airline. The GAO wants to address unreasonable baggage delays.
A delayed bag might mean someone has to go without needed work materials, potentially life-saving medication and so forth. Going without clean clothes for days can be humiliating, leading some to get a cash advance to pick up a new wardrobe. To address it, the GAO proposes a tiered compensation system. The greater the inconvenience, meaning the longer a passenger’s bag is missing, the greater the compensation.
However, according to ABC, the report does mandate the Department of Transportation define what an “unreasonable” delay is. Some bags, after all, can’t be checked onto a flight if a passenger arrives late and a certain number of bags are erroneously tagged by customers.
With new regulation comes new bureaucracy
Unfortunately, the GAO also proposes that a new agency, ostensibly a division of the Department of Transportation, be created to administer the rules of baggage compensation and to look into lost, delayed or otherwise mishandled luggage. In order to fund the operation, the costs would have to be passed on to the customer which would mean more travel fees, which are already a source of consternation to travelers.