NEW YORK—Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is writing a letter to every major U.S. airline, urging them to fully refund passengers’ checked-baggage fees when bags do not make it on the passenger’s flight and are not delivered “in a timely fashion.”
“Baggage fees are now a growing source of income for airlines, which have seen their baggage fees revenue skyrocket since they were introduced four years ago,” Schumer said.
The revenue from baggage fees has increased from $2.7 billion in 2009 to $3.3 billion in 2010.
On Friday, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) set forth new rules to make airline pricing more transparent.
“In an era of rising fees, passengers deserve better information about how airlines are performing, particularly when it comes to fees, baggage, and accommodating passengers in wheelchairs,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
The new rules will require airlines to report their categories of fee revenue, in addition to the baggage and reservation fees. While these rules will require airlines to reimburse passengers if bags are lost indefinitely, passengers who have their luggage mishandled and don’t see their bags for days or weeks after landing would not be refunded.
“It’s so shocking that even if the airlines lose your bags for days, they still expect you for pay the huge check baggage fees that can add up to, sometimes, hundreds of dollars per flight—regardless of whether your bag actually makes it onto your flight and into your hands when you land at the airport,” Schumer noted.
Last year, 3.57 bags were mishandled per 1,000 passengers, according to the DOT, though numbers for lost bags are not available. According to aviation technology provider SITA, 12.07 bags were mishandled per 1,000 customers globally, with 0.43 of bags lost per 1,000 passengers.
“If airlines won’t change their policies voluntarily, as I said I’m going to introduce legislation that protects air travelers from unjustified fees,” Schumer said. “The bottom line is, unless airlines do their job and make sure to do what they’re paid to do and deliver these bags in a timely fashion, passengers shouldn’t have to pay a dime in baggage fees.”
“If they’re making so much money on the fees, at least they ought to deliver the service,” the senator added.When baggage fees were introduced in 2007, airlines’ revenue from such fees was $464 million, compared to last year’s $3.3 billion. Most airlines currently charge a fee even for one checked bag. Fees range from $20 and upward, typically depending on the weight of the luggage.