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New Rules Would Require Airlines To Refund Baggage Fees For Delayed Luggage

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The Obama administration is proposing new rules to address passenger complaints about airline service.

Many travelers have resigned themselves to paying $25 or more to check a bag when flying. But that fee becomes especially onerous when the bag doesn't show up on the carousel at baggage claim.

The White House is proposing a new rule that would require airlines to refund the checked baggage fee if luggage is "substantially delayed," though it does not define "substantially."

NPR aviation reporter David Schaper says airlines are already required to compensate passengers for lost or damaged luggage. Schaper quotes Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx arguing that this next step just makes sense: "If you pay the baggage fee and your bags are not returned to you in a timely manner, you've essentially paid for a service you're not getting."

The Obama administration is announcing a number of proposed rules designed to address common passenger complaints about airline service.

Another target is travel websites that offer comparison-ticket shopping. Such websites commonly rank airlines higher or lower based on undisclosed payments or other business incentives.

A new rule proposed by the Transportation Department would require such websites to be neutral "or disclose their bias upfront so consumers can truly comparison shop when booking flights," Schaper reports.

Another focus of the new rulemaking is airlines' on-time record. "Major airlines are now only required to disclose on-time performance data for the flights they operate," reports Schaper, "not those of those small regional partners that the big legacy carriers partner with."

The new rules will require those regional carriers to also report their on-time performance data.

A spokesperson for the industry group Airlines for America said that airlines have the same goal of providing quality service, but improvement is already taking place in the marketplace without more government regulation.

"We've said for a long time that we think the airline industry is probably the most regulated deregulated industry you can find, and this is another example of it," said spokesperson Jean Medina.

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