The Transportation Department is getting serious about lost luggage reimbursement. The department has told airlines that they can’t set arbitrary limits on reimbursement for the bags they lose – or items that they have to replace because of delays. Several airlines, the DOT says, will only pay for necessities that passengers buy more than 24 hours after they hit the ground without their bags. And, they limit their willingness to pay to outbound trips. So, if you’re on your way home, you may get stuck with the tab.
The fed’s regs put the airlines on the hook for up to $3,300 per passenger on domestic flights for expenses resulting from lost or delayed luggage.
The Transportation Department is going to monitor the situation for 90 days, it says, then take enforcement steps against airlines that don’t play ball. One airline, the DOT disclosed, was fined last month for only footing the bill on outbound trips and only for items bought after that first 24-hour window after passengers landed.
Passengers flying with their pets have always had a rough time navigating the tricky rules surrounding pet carriers. And many have been frustrated to find that carriers that they thought were approved for travel in the plane’s cabin were deemed unsuitable by gate agents. When that happens, many pet owners find themselves out of luck – unable to board the plane, but not eligible for a refund on the flight.
To help, the Sherpa pet carrier company has teamed up with eight pet-friendly airlines to offer the “Guaranteed on Board” program, a sort of insurance policy for those traveling with their pets. The GOB website details the sizes and types of carriers allowed on each airline. Passengers who purchase an approved carrier can go online to register it (after making arrangements to bring the pet on board directly with the airline they are flying) print out the Guaranteed on Board certificate and bring it with them to the airport. If they are then refused boarding by an airline official due to the carrier, the program will reimburse them for the cost of the missed flight.
Airlines participating in the program include American, Midwest AirTran, Continental, Northwest, Delta, Southwest, and Alaska. American and Delta have even designed their own bags, which they sell on the Sherpa website. If your pet can’t fly on its own airline, at least you can have some assurance that your carrier will be up to spec, or you’ll get your money back for being bumped off a flight.