WASHINGTON – Airlines will have an extra year to report more about mishandled bags and wheelchairs, after the Transportation Department delayed the start of a rule that was announced as “final” in October.
The rule published in the final months of the Obama administration will change how mishandled bags are counted, and require separate reporting for mishandled wheelchairs. The rule announced last October was scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2018.
But the trade group Airlines for America, which represents most of the largest carriers, and Delta Air Lines, each have asked for more time to comply.
The department agreed to delay implementation until Jan. 1, 2019, under a memo from White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, to freeze regulatory action until the Trump administration could review it. The delay will be published in the Federal Register on Tuesday.
“A4A states that industry is facing challenges with parts of this regulation and needs more time to implement it,” Judith Kaleta, the department’s deputy general counsel, said in the four-page filing. “After carefully considering the requests, we have decided to grant an extension of the compliance date for the final rule on reporting of mishandled baggage and wheelchairs until January 1, 2019.”
A dozen major airlines, which each carry at least 1% of the 800 million annual airline travelers, now report how many bags are mishandled for total passengers.
For example, airlines reported mishandling 3.4 bags for every 1,000 passengers in January, the most recent month available.
The new rule will change the standard to the number of mishandled bags out of the total number of bags checked.
Consumer advocates, along with Airports Council International-North America and Southwest Airlines, said that would be a more precise standard as more travelers limit themselves to carry-on…