Denying Travelers Compensation For Damaged Bags Won’t Fly With The DOT Starting Jan. 9

Some airlines aren’t living up to their obligation to compensate passengers for damage to their luggage, recent inspections by the Department of Transportation found. Now, the agency is warning carriers that if their policies and trainings don’t fall in line with federal regulations by Jan. 9, they could face fines and other enforcement action. 

The DOT released a notice last week reminding carriers that they are required to compensate passengers for damage to wheels, straps, zippers, handles and other protruding parts of checked baggage beyond normal wear and tear.

Inspections by the department’s Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings at airports around the country in September found that certain airlines may be refusing to accept reports of such damage.

“The inspections have been helpful in determining whether airlines are treating consumers fairly and providing them the services to which they are entitled under the law,” the DOT said in a statement.

The inspectors are expected to release their findings in a report next month. However, the DOT is saying now that a number of carriers are under investigation for potential violations of consumer protection and civil rights requirements.

The agency did not elaborate on which carriers were being probed or specify what requirements may be violated. It noted that any enforcement action related to the investigations will be made public in the future.

For now, the DOT’s notice warns airlines to immediately review and revise their baggage policies to ensure compliance with the law.

As part of the notice, the DOT directs carriers to ensure that costumer-facing employees such as gate agents understand the rules and don’t turn away travelers who bring complaints of damaged luggage.

The Aviation Enforcement Office says it intends to take enforcement action against airlines that are not in compliance by Jan. 9, 2016.

“We will continue to strengthen how we monitor and enforce compliance with air travel consumer protection and civil rights rules,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement.

[via Time]