Airlines Forced to Improve Baggage Liability Policies
30 Dec 2015

Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 12.36.18 PMA film was released in late November of Alaskan Airlines employees throwing customers’ baggage onto concrete at San Jose International Airport in what appeared to be a competition. Though the airline has since apologized for its employees blatantly mishandling customers’ property, the incident sparked some serious conversation about what types of luggage damage airlines should be held responsible for.

Alaskan Airlines is certainly not the only carrier who has been accused of damaging luggage, but after footage of employees’ misconduct was released, the Department of Transportation issued a warning to airlines who try to avoid responsibility for damage done to checked baggage. The DOT’s notice came during the holiday travel season, when many travelers pack valuable gifts and other fragile items in their checked bags.

According to federal law, airlines are required to reimburse customers for damage done to handles, zippers, wheels, and other external luggage parts, while the bags are in the airline’s care. Recent airport inspections revealed that “certain airlines routinely exclude liability for damage to specific part of checked baggage.” Many airlines turn away customers who complain about damages to their luggage. Refusal to reimburse passengers for such damages is in direct violation of federal law.

As part of the law, airlines are also required to ensure that gate agents and any other employees who interact with customers are caught up on the new rules and responsibilities for damaged luggage. Airline employees are not permitted to turn away customers who wish to file a complaint for damaged baggage.

The Department of Transportation’s Aviation Enforcement Office gave airlines until January 9, 2016 to update employees and enforce new luggage damage policies. Airlines that fail to comply could face fines or other action from the Aviation Enforcement Office. Let Gateway VIP Services and our airport concierge assist you today with baggage handling to ensure a safe and seamless travel experience. Read More.

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