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GAO Issues Briefing on Delayed Baggage and Options for Compensating Airline Passengers

Patrick R. Rizzi

Patrick R. Rizzi,

Washington, D.C.

18 June 2012
The General Accountability Office ("GAO") issued a briefing late last week on delayed baggage in the airline industry and options for compensating passengers. GAO Briefing.  The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 required such a briefing from the Comptroller General.  In preparing its briefing, the GAO interviewed DOT officials, airline representatives, and consumer organization representatives, analyzed DOT mishandled-baggage data, and reviewed relevant DOT regulations and proposed rules relating to delayed baggage.
GAO Issues Briefing on Delayed Baggage and Options for Compensating Airline Passengers

A detailed assessment of baggage delays could not be conducted, however, because the DOT’s data does not distinguish between delayed baggage and other types of mishandled baggage.  In terms of compensating passengers for delayed baggage, the GAO briefing identified three options:

(1) keep current regulations, which, among other things, require compensation for reasonable expenses that result because of [a] delay in delivery of baggage, (2) reimburse passenger for the checked baggage fee if the bag is delayed, or (3) implement compensation standards based on the length of delay.”

But, the GAO noted that any implementation of minimum compensation standards would require an administrative structure and entail costs that “are likely to be passed on to passengers.”  In the end, the GAO made clear:

We are not making any recommendations for congressional consideration or agency action.” 

Patrick R. Rizzi

Patrick R. Rizzi,

Washington, D.C.

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