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Proposed rule would make airlines provide luggage information

July 15, 2011 | 12:29 pm

LoadingluggageLAXReports of lost, delayed or damaged luggage filed with the nation's airlines have dropped by about 30% since 2008, when most major airlines began to charge a fee to check bags.

Airline experts believe fewer bags have been lost, damaged  or delayed because passengers pack fewer belongings to avoid the fees. But airlines are not required to report the number of bags they check, making that theory nearly impossible to prove. Until now.

The U.S. Department of Transportation proposed rules Friday that would require the nation's airlines to detail how much they collect in fees for on-board food, entertainment, blankets and other items. The rule also requires airlines to report how many bags each airline checks per month.

The federal agency currently compares the reports of lost, damaged or delayed bags with the total number of passengers flying each month.

In 2008, the nation's airlines reported 5.26 lost, damaged or delayed bags for every 1,000 passengers. In 2010, the rate dropped to 3.58 reports, according to federal statistics.

Once the rule takes effect, the Transportation Department will be able to calculate how many bags are lost, damaged or delayed compared with how many are checked.

Agency officials expect the rule to take effect in the spring of 2012.

Photo: US Airways employee Chandra Flanagan loads baggage onto a cart destined for a US Airways Express flight to Charlotte, N.C., at Augusta Regional Airport in Georgia in April. Credit: Associated Press