U.S. airlines and airline passengers are at odds over the Transportation Department's plan to issue rules for delayed baggage refunds. The department is under a Congressional mandate to impose the penalties, but it has some slack in deciding how many hours late will trigger the refunds.
Congress mandated that the agency set a point between 12 and 18 hours for domestic and 15 to 30 hours for international.
The airlines are arguing that shorter times will make it too expensive for them, and ultimately hurt passengers; passenger advocacy groups and travel agents argue that if the airlines are charging $25 to $50 and more per bag, they need to get them back quickly or lose the money.
An additional factor is that many smaller airlines, and even larger airlines serving smaller markets, may not have another flight to the destination until the next day or the day after. Spirit, for instance, says its average delay for domestic flights is 32 hours and 44 for international flights. The airlines are asking Transportation to require other airlines to transport bags if needed.
In Europe, meanwhile, Ryanair, has a complaint of its own. In 2013, in part to improve its public image, Ryanair began to allow passengers a second, smaller cabin bag in addition to one regular-size carryon. Now it's threatened to reverse the policy because, it claims, people are abusing it.
Michael O’Leary, the airline’s chief executive, told The Irish Independent newspaper that “We're struggling at the boarding gate because far too many passengers are turning up with half the contents of their homes now instead of one normal-sized bag and one small bag. If it doesn't stop, we're going to have to change that policy.” He also complained that some people turn up with three bags.