Last updated: 10:24 AM ET, Mon July 06 2015

US DOT to Levy Harsher Penalties Against Airlines for Mishandled Baggage

Airlines & Airports | U.S. Department of Transportation | Patrick Clarke | May 27, 2015

US DOT to Levy Harsher Penalties Against Airlines for Mishandled Baggage

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced on Tuesday that it will increase the penalty on airlines that mishandle passengers' luggage.

According to Tim Devaney of The Hill, the DOT will penalize airlines that lose or damage baggage by making them liable for reimbursement up to $3,500, a $100 increase over the previous limit of $3,400.

In addition to the mishandled baggage penalty, the agency will increase penalties handed down to airlines that deny passengers boarding because of an overbooked flight.

Devaney reports that a majority of those travelers who are denied boarding involuntarily would be eligible to receive between $675 and $1,350 in compensation. 

The increased penalties are scheduled to take effect in 90 days' time. 

According to the DOT, 1.8 million passengers filed mishandled baggage claims in 2013, while 57,000 were involuntarily denied boarding over the course of the year. 

Although the $100 increase seems significant, it's likely to only impact a small percentage of unfortunate passengers. That's because of the nearly two million travelers who filed claims regarding mishandled baggage two years ago, fewer than 0.6 percent filed claims of more than $3,400. 

The DOT anticipates that the increase will cost the airlines an additional $1 million each year collectively. 


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