Re-elect Dan Lipinski Congressman

Lost Luggage Payback and a Ban on Cellphones in Flight



Crain's Chicago Business


If you think airlines ought to pay for losing your bag, U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski has a piece of proposed legislation for you.

Ditto anyone who thinks using a cellphone in the air is a horrid idea.

According to the Illinois Democrat, legislation likely to clear the House Transportation Committee on which he serves includes provisions that deal with both of the above matters, and more.

One that's likely to be a big hit with consumers, though not airlines, would allow passengers on domestic flights to get their checked bag fee back if the airline does not deliver this luggage within 24 hours of arrival.

Lipinski actually wanted a two-hour cutoff, but agreed to settle for 24 hours, for the time being.

"No, the carriers are not (in favor)," he said. But, "It only makes sense. If they're going to be charging to check bags, they should compensate people for inconvenience."

Likely more controversial is a second provision that would block the U.S. Department of Transportation from dumping a current rule that bans cell phone calls after a plane has left the gate.

"It's bad enough now, flying on these sold-out planes where people are sitting on top of each other," said Lipinski. "I certainly don't want someone on the phone sitting next to me, or having multiple people on the phone nearby. This is not a good idea."

Perhaps texts only, as a compromise?

Also in the bill now are two other sections that may not survive.

One, authored by Lipinski, would allow the FAA to test controlling air traffic from a remote location via cameras. He said the clause could help small, lightly used air fields such as Lewis University Airport, which is in his district in Will County, to save money.

The other section would privatize operation of the nation's air-traffic control system, creating an independent, not-for-profit corporation to run the towers.

Some Washington Republicans strongly support the move, pointing to rather slow progress in upgrading air-traffic radar and related systems. But Lipinski says he has "significant concerns" about it.

The outlook on final passage of that: cloudy.

The bill overall would reauthorize funding for the FAA until 2022.

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