The answer is yes, and the US Department of Transportation is preparing rules to force them to do just that.
Nearly all the airlines charge $15 to $35 to check a first bag, $20 to $45 to check a second and more for any beyond that. Among the major carriers, the notable exceptions are Southwest, which spots you two free checked bags and JetBlue which gives you one.
If you bag is delayed, even by days, none of them will refund your fee in cash. Two carriers, Alaska Airlines and Delta, will give you $20 or $25 credit, respectively toward future travel for late bags. Alaska will also let you opt for 2,000 frequent flier miles. If, however, your luggage is never found or is damaged, you can seek a fee refund as part of a lost-property claim with the airline.
The new proposed DOT rules would force airlines to refund your fee if a bag is lost or not delivered in a "timely" manner. It's not clear what "timely" means. Hopefully travelers will get a firmer sense of this when the regulator release details of the rule later this month -- as well as some idea of when the new rule will take effect.
Airlines say that such rules will cost them money and result in higher fares.
Besides the new rule on luggage, the DOT is expected to issue other proposals involving payments for bumped passengers, no-penalty cancellations, and better fee disclosure at the same time, according to The Associated Press.
What do you think? Should the airlines be held accountable for late luggage?
Associated Press file photo