On October 9, 2009, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) issued a guidance letter to the airlines asking that they review their policies related to the reimbursement of passengers’ expenses related to lost, damaged, or delayed baggage.

The airlines were warned to not set arbitrary limits on reimbursements, such as the denial of related expenses for baggage that is “expected” to reach the passenger within 24 hours. DOT’s baggage liability rule contains no such limitations and even states that an airline “shall not limit its liability for provable direct or consequential damages.” According to DOT, an airline should remain willing to cover all reasonable, actual, and verifiable expenses related to baggage loss, damage, or delay up to US$3,300 per passenger.

The airlines have 90 days from the date of the notice to amend their contracts of carriage and related policies. Consumers who have been denied reimbursement coverage by an airline can file a complaint with the DOT at: Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings (C-70), US DOT, 1200 New Jersey Ave SE, Washington, DC 20590.