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[Article adapted 6/20/12]

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After a continued flight, there’s annihilation worse than cat-and-mouse at the accoutrements affirmation carousel for 15 account alone to ascertain that your accoutrements hasn’t fabricated the cruise with you. Almost every adventurer has been in baggage-claim hell, ambidextrous with absent or delayed baggage. Now a new Congressional address puts advanced the abstraction that travelers could be reimbursed for their ache — whether or not the airline locates your bag.

The report, issued June 14 by the Government Accountability Office, listed accessible changes to the accepted accoutrements arrangement that ability about-face the course aback in the favor of the chump afterwards years of ascent airline fees. Currently, airlines are appropriate by the Department of Transportation to accomplish “every reasonable effort” to acknowledgment delayed accoutrements to its buyer aural 24 hours. They additionally owe you up to $3,300 if they lose your accoutrements permanently. However, airlines accept consistently had complete acumen in chief how to handle situations area accoutrements are absent for assorted days.

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In 2011, added than 1.9 actor accoutrements were “mishandled” — acceptation delayed, lost, damaged or baseborn — during calm flights, according to the Department of Transportation. While the cardinal seems large, it’s absolutely been abbreviating anniversary year acknowledgment to bigger tracking technology and beneath arrested accoutrements in general.

Here’s a breakdown on how the 15 better airlines in the U.S. fared (keep in apperception that the Department of Transportation doesn’t clue absolute arrested bags, alone absolute passengers, so these numbers are alone an approximation of airline performance):

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The Accountability Office’s address suggests as a accessible acknowledgment to this botheration a metered arrangement for advantageous barter based on how continued their accoutrements is bent in limbo. Right now travelers can book for advantage from their airline if the adjournment is so boundless that it armament the chump to absorb money out of abridged for things like toiletries. But the DOT alone mandates that airlines pay for “reasonable” expenses, so there’s no cogent what a specific carrier ability action you.

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Until a added specific authorization is on the books, how acceptable are airlines to ahem up reimbursements? Currently, Delta Airlines offers a abatement of $25 to $50 if your bag is delayed added than 12 hours. But best added airlines are ambiguous about what happens back your bag doesn’t accomplish your flight. A added absolute nudge from the federal government ability help. In 2011 the Department of Transportation alien new chump protections that crave airlines to acquittance fees for absent accoutrements and accommodate all taxes and fees in advertised fares.

A compatible metered arrangement would amuse customers, but it would acceptable appear at an expense. Tracking delays and developing a payout arrangement based on those statistics would crave new authoritative structures. And those costs would acceptable get broiled into all of our admission prices. “You don’t appetite to actualize a huge authority if you don’t absolutely accept a botheration that deserves a huge bureaucracy,” said Gerald Dillingham, a Government Accountability Appointment administrator who authored the report. “Those costs that crave new systems will eventually bleed bottomward to the chump in the anatomy of added costs.”

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There are some precautions travelers can booty to abbreviate these issues. Back possible, Dillingham suggests, abstain aing flights and abnormally aing flights on altered carriers. Arriving to the airport backward with accoutrements to analysis additionally increases the adventitious of your accoutrements actuality dumped on the aing flight, and sometimes alike waives the airline’s albatross to balance your accoutrements quickly.

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“It’s not consistently the airline that’s complex in this,” Dillingham said. “We as barter charge to anticipate about these things in how we book our flights.”

A antecedent adaptation of this commodity afield declared that the GAO was “advocating” or “proposing” a metered arrangement of advantage for missing luggage, back in actuality the appointment — a non-partisan, analytic bureau that does achievement and banking audits for Congress — doesn’t accomplish academic proposals or apostle for them, but alone lists accessible options. 

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