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Passenger’s Suit Over Delayed Luggage Will Be Allowed to Proceed

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* Appeals court rules passenger can sue airline over delayed luggage
* Airline says ticket contract is too vague to provide a remedy
* Lower court to rule on class action status

The LA Times reports that seven years after she filed suit against US Airways over a $15 bag fee on a flight from Colorado to California, Hayley Hickcox-Huffman’s case is being allowed to move forward against American Airlines, which purchased US Airways in 2015.

Despite the short flight (under 2.5 hours), Hickcox-Huffman’s bag was delayed by a day. She says that means the airline failed to meet its promise of delivering bags in a timely manner. Given what happens when lost bags aren’t claimed, she had good reason for alarm.

For its part, American Airlines argues that it should not be required to refund the fee because its ticket contract does not specify what should happen when luggage is delayed due to airline error.

A lower court had previously tossed the suit. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overruled that decision. The case was filed as a class action claim, which means other passengers who have been inconvenienced by the airline can join. A lower court still must rule on the class action status.

What this means, though, is that carriers can now be held responsible for reimbursing luggage fees to passengers, if their bags arrive late. Most airlines will currently reimburse you for lost luggage, but they do not have explicit rules for baggage delays. Delta provides compensation if you don’t have your bag after 12 hours of a flight landing. The carrier pays up to $50 a day, for up to five days. American, meantime, will reimburse you for items you need immediately, like toiletries and medicine.

As for Hickcox-Huffman’s suit, her attorney says the case was “filed right when airlines began to shove those baggage fees down everyone’s throats. This case represents the consumer fighting back.”