Last updated: 08:55 PM ET, Thu December 03 2015

Department of Transportation Issues Warning to Airlines About Damaged Bags

Airlines & Airports | Donald Wood | December 03, 2015

Department of Transportation Issues Warning to Airlines About Damaged Bags

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

The United States Department of Transportation officially issued a notice to airlines reminding them that their companies are liable for damage to passengers’ bags if it was caused during the transportation of the luggage.

The statement adds that even if the airline does not believe it is liable for the damage in question, the companies must accept all reports of mishandled baggage from customers. The notice was issued following the Department’s routine airport inspection that uncovered airlines denying liability for damage to specific parts of checked baggage.

As for what kind of damage airlines are liable for, the Department stated that companies are expected to compensate passengers if wheels, straps, zippers, handles and other parts of luggage are damaged beyond what is considered to be normal wear and tear.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx released a statement, saying, “These inspections demonstrate the Department’s commitment to protecting consumers when they travel by air. While we are proud of the progress we’ve made so far, we will continue to strengthen how we monitor and enforce compliance with air travel consumer protection and civil rights rules.”

During the airport inspections by the Department’s Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings in September, the agency found that several airlines were refusing to accept reports of damage to certain parts of luggage.

As suggested by the notice, airlines should review and revise their baggage policies to ensure they are following the law. The Aviation Enforcement Office plans to take legal action against airlines that aren’t compliant by Jan. 9, 2016.

The inspection also exposed potential violations of the Department’s consumer protection and civil rights requirements. If punishments are levied by the government against airlines for these issues, they will become public.


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