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New Law To Force Airlines To Reimburse Passengers For Lost Luggage

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(Photo Credit: Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) — Between higher fees and frequent delays, most airline passengers will tell you flying isn’t what it used to be.

Changes are coming next month which are designed to protect consumers, but some people question whether they will be enough.

Susan Altman is always anxious when she waits for her luggage at the turnstile.

“I’m always afraid,” she said, “that every time my bag is not going to be there.”

This anxiety comes at a time when consumers have never paid more for checked bags. Airlines collected $3.5 billion last year.

We are paying more, but are we getting more?

Anne Banas, of www.smartertravel.com, said that if an airline loses your bags, they are not obligated to do much.

A slew of new federal regulations will be implemented this August.

“The Department of Transportation has come up with new rules that say basically if your bag is lost and you have paid a baggage fee, the airline has to reimburse you,” Banas explained.

Although that sounds like good news, there is a catch.

“You are not going to actually be getting cash compensation. Most airlines will do this in the form of a voucher, or coupon, which might have blackout dates,” added Banas.

It’s important to note this only addresses lost luggage, not bags which are delayed.

Some consumer advocates say they believe that passengers deserve more because they’re now paying so much for a service that was once free.

Kent Greenfield, a law professor at Boston College, says that’s not the case, and the airlines are free to charge whatever the market will bear.

Still, Banas believes these changes are better than nothing.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” she said. “In the past, if your bag was lost you got nothing.”

Under these new regulations, the airlines will be required to post all potential fees on their websites. This will include not only fees associated with baggage and meals, but will also highlight charges associated with changing or canceling a reservation.

Other rule changes will limit the amount of time a flight can sit on the tarmac, and raise the compensation for passengers who are bumped from oversold flights.

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