Take heart all you frequent locum tenens fliers! The US Transportation Department has ruled that US airlines must offer bag fee refunds for losing luggage, one step toward holding carriers more accountable for snafus that lead to 2 million lost bags annually.
The new rule also doubles the penalty for involuntarily "bumping" passengers from sold-out flights and goes further than previous orders from Congress aimed at addressing passenger complaints.
Airlines collected more than $2.5 billion in bag fees alone last year, the government estimates.
"It's just common sense that if an airline loses your bag or you get bumped from a flight because it was oversold, you should be reimbursed," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement.
Airlines are already required to reimburse passengers for reasonable expenses if their luggage is damaged or lost. The new rule specifically covers bag fees, which feel like salt in the wound for consumers who had to deal with those 2 million lost bags in 2010.
The new regulation also:
-- Requires airlines to disclose all potential fees on their websites, including for meals, bags, seating upgrades, and cancelling or changing reservations. -- Doubles the possible compensation when passengers are "bumped" or involuntarily placed on another flight. Today, "bumped" passengers are eligible for compensation equal to the value of their tickets -- up to $400 -- but certain restrictions apply.
-- Expands the existing ban on those unbearable runway delays to include flights on overseas airlines at US airports.