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If your checked bag arrives late, the DOT thinks you should be guaranteed a refund

July 02, 2021
3 min read
If your checked bag arrives late, the DOT thinks you should be guaranteed a refund
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Checked-bag lovers — rejoice!

A new proposal by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) would require airlines to refund checked-baggage fees if bags are considerably delayed. The story was first reported by The Associated Press, which cited unnamed officials. A source with knowledge of the plans, but was not authorized to talk publicly, confirmed the news to TPG.

This push is not new. DOT submitted a similar proposal into the Federal Register on Oct. 31, 2016. In the same year, Congress mandated that the DOT develop rules requiring airlines to promptly refund checked baggage fees to passengers in cases of late bag delivery. That mandate was not acted upon during the Trump administration.

Currently, regulations require only that airlines refund checked-bag fees if bags are lost altogether. The new proposal, which is expected to be filed in the coming days, would extend the refund to delayed checked bags and could come into effect as early as next summer.

This proposal would make enhanced checked-baggage protections an industry standard. However, it is quite lenient on carriers: Airlines would only be required to refund fees if a bag is over 12 hours delayed for a domestic flight or more than 25 hours delayed for an international flight.

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Certain airlines, such as Delta, already have a checked baggage guarantee. For the Atlanta-based carrier, if checked bags do not arrive within 20 minutes of landing, passengers are eligible to receive 2,500 SkyMiles — worth $27.50 according to the most recent TPG valuation of SkyMiles — if they fill out this form.

DOT's proposal is part of a larger push by the Biden administration toward more consumer protection in the airline industry. The DOT has recently been tough on airlines who have violated regulations: In June, the department proposed a fine of more than $25 million for Air Canada over denied refunds.

The Biden administration, as part of the same executive order, will also instruct the DOT to issue new consumer protection rules, according to sources. Those include:

  • Refunds for seat-selection fees if not available
  • Refunds for WiFi if it doesn’t work
  • Refunds for other services purchased a la carte, but not given

For the airlines, checked baggage is a big profit center. Passengers in the U.S. paid almost $6 billion in checked bag fees in 2019 alone.

The proposal still needs to be finalized by the DOT, but — if it goes through — it could be a first step in creating better consumer protection for passengers in the U.S.

Featured image by Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Apply for American Express® Gold Card
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Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
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  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees