airport gate people silhouette
Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

Was Your Baggage Fee Refunded When Your Checked Bag Was Delayed?

It’s the law, you know...

The House of Representatives of the United States voted to sign Bill H.R. 636 — which is also known as the Extension, Safety, and Security Act of the Federal Aviation Administration of the United States — into law back on Friday, July 15, 2016; and Section 2305 of that law specifically provides for an automated refund of any ancillary fees which were paid by the passenger for checked baggage under certain conditions.

Was Your Baggage Fee Refunded When Your Checked Bag Was Delayed?

Section 2305 of that law is copied verbatim in its entirety below:


(a) In General.–Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Transportation shall issue final regulations to require an air carrier or foreign air carrier to promptly provide to a passenger an automated refund for any ancillary fees paid by the passenger for checked baggage if–
(1) the air carrier or foreign air carrier fails to deliver the checked baggage to the passenger–
(A) not later than 12 hours after the arrival of a domestic flight; or
(B) not later than 15 hours after the arrival of an international flight; and
(2) the passenger has notified the air carrier or foreign air carrier of the lost or delayed checked baggage.

(b) <> Exception.–If, as part of the rulemaking, the Secretary makes a determination on the record that a requirement under subsection (a) is not feasible and would adversely affect consumers in certain cases, the Secretary may modify 1 or both of the deadlines specified in subsection (a)(1) for such cases, except that–
(1) the deadline relating to a domestic flight may not exceed 18 hours after the arrival of the domestic flight; and
(2) the deadline relating to an international flight may not exceed 30 hours after the arrival of the international flight.

When your baggage is delayed under the aforementioned conditions, an airline is responsible and required to:

  • Compensate passengers for reasonable, verifiable, and actual incidental expenses which they may incur while their bags are delayed — subject up to the maximum liability limit of $3,800.00.
  • Not allowed to set an arbitrary daily amount for interim expenses. As an example, an airline cannot have a policy that they will reimburse a passenger up to only $50.00 for each day that the bag of a passenger is delayed.

“Enter the heart of the 2017 summer travel season, each further day of delay caused substantial consumer harm”, according to this article written by Charlie Leocha, who is the chairman and founder of Travelers United, which is an advocacy membership organization. “According to DOT statistics, the top 13 U.S. carriers collected almost $4.2 billion in ancillary baggage fees. This works out to approximately $11.4 million in checked baggage fees per day. And, even assuming that only two percent of paid checked baggage is not delivered within the deadlines, that amounts to almost $229,000 in refunds that consumers are not receiving every day this rule is delayed. This amount of baggage fees collected increased every year until 2019.”

Final Boarding Call

Save your receipts when your checked baggage is delayed, as the Department of Transportation of the United States has outlined the responsibilities of airlines and what passengers can do in the event that checked baggage is delayed. You do have rights; and you may be owed a refund of your checked baggage fee if your situation falls under the aforementioned conditions.

That checked baggage has been delayed or lost at a substantially higher rate than average this summer of 2022 is only exacerbated by the fact that the airlines have the audacity to charge you for a service which they apparently cannot guarantee — and this must change.

In many articles which I have written at The Gate, I have always advised against checking baggage — even when the service was once included in the price of the airline ticket. Never check your baggage with an airline — pack as light as possible for each trip so that you will only need to carry bags aboard the airplane — unless you absolutely otherwise have no choice.

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!