With the bill’s passing, airlines will now be required to refund baggage fees on any items that are lost or delayed. Photo:
A bill mandating the refund of luggage fees to fliers whose bags are delayed or lost, and force airlines to seat children with their parents or guardians without a fee, was officially signed into law by President Obama on Friday.
The FAA Reauthorization Bill, which included these key features, passed the Senate with a vote of 95-3 in April and the House by voice vote last week. It will fund the FAA through September 2017.
With the bill’s passing, airlines will now be required to refund baggage fees on any items that are lost or delayed. Airlines also must seat children 13 years of age and younger next to a parent or guardian traveling with them at no additional cost.
The bill also expands TSA PreCheck and tightens employee vetting standards for workers with access to secure areas at airports.
Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-SD), who sponsored the Senate bill, called it “one of the most passenger-friendly FAA reauthorization bills we’ve seen, literally, in a generation.”
The bill was a “top priority” for the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) during its legislation day on March 15.
In a statement, ASTA president Zane Kerby applauded Congress for passing the reauthorization and for considering the association’s concerns.
One part of the bill, the "Transparent Airlines Act," that was initially proposed but not included in the signed draft would have allowed airlines and OTAs to advertise airline prices without including taxes and fees. ASTA rallied to have the act removed from the bill, as it would have made it more difficult for agents to show their clients a total fare when booking a flight.
“In particular we want to thank these policymakers for listening to the views of ASTA and its members and not imposing new and unwarranted disclosure obligations on the agency community,” Kerby said in the statement. “These would have presented massive new costs to our members, ranging from reprogramming systems, to training staff, to ‘talk time’ and opportunity costs from lost sales.”