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New Law To Force Airlines To Reimburse Passengers For Lost Luggage

By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TV
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File Image (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

File Image (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

WBZ-TV's Paula Ebben Paula Ebben
Award-winning journalist Paula Ebben co-anchors WBZ-TV News at 6PM...
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BOSTON (CBS) – Between higher and fees and frequent delays, most airline passengers will tell you flying isn’t what it used to be.

Changes are coming next month which are designed to protect consumers, but some people question whether they will be enough.

Susan Altman is always anxious when she waits for her luggage at the turnstile.

“I’m always afraid,” she said, “that every time my bag is not going to be there.”

This anxiety comes at a time when consumers have never paid more for checked bags. Airlines collected $3.5 billion last year.

WBZ-TV’s Paula Ebben reports.

We are paying more, but are we getting more?

Anne Banas of www.smartertravel.com said that if an airline loses your bags, they are not obligated to do much.

A slew of new federal regulations will be implemented this August.

“The Department of Transportation has come up with new rules that say basically if your bag is lost and you have paid a baggage fee, the airline has to reimburse you,” Banas explained.

Although that sounds like good news, there is a catch.

“You are not going to actually be getting cash compensation. Most airlines will do this in the form of a voucher, or coupon which might have black out dates,” added Banas.

It’s important to note this only addresses lost luggage, not bags which are delayed.

Passengers at Logan Airport thought think this is a poor substitute for a lost bag.

Some consumer advocates agree, believing passengers deserve more because they’re now paying so much for a service that was once free.

Boston College Law Professor Kent Greenfield says that’s not the case, and the airlines are free to charge what ever the market will bear.

Still, Banas believes these changes are better than nothing.

“It’s a step in the right direction. In the past if your; bag was lost you got nothing”

Tom Friedman, an air passenger from Framingham, still thinks the airlines have a long way to go when it comes to customer service. “They pack you in like cattle, and they treat you like dirt,” he said.

Under these new regulations, the airlines will be required to post all potential fees on their websites. This will include not only fees associated with baggage and meals, but will also highlight charges associated with changing or canceling a reservation.

Other rule changes will limit the amount of time a flight can sit on the tarmac, and raise the compensation for passengers who are bumped from oversold flights.

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