Sick of airlines gouging you for checking baggage?

Well, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York) is, too.

“It boggles the mind that airlines can lose your bags for days on end and still stick you with the bill,” said Schumer.

Yesterday, Schumer urged airlines to refund baggage check fees if bags do not arrive the moment the passenger does.

“Unless airlines do the job they are paid to do and return bags in a timely fashion, passengers shouldn’t have to pay a dime,” said Schumer.

Airlines began charging for checked baggage four years ago and the practice has turned into a big business, he said. According to Schumer, 20 U.S. airlines took in $3.4 billion in baggage fees in 2010 ­­–– a dramatic increase from 2007, when 22 U.S. carriers took in just $464 million.

In August, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s new set of airline regulations will require companies refund luggage fees if and only if the items are never returned — a major loophole in Schumer’s eyes. He wants full baggage fee refunds if the suitcases arrive at their final destination late, even by just a few hours.

“Passengers deserve better. I urge airlines to begin refunding fees,” he said.

The big business of baggage fees

$25 - $100 is the total airlines charge per bag.

3.57 bags per 1,000 were mishandled by U.S. airlines in 2010 (including late bags that were eventually returned).

12 bags per 1,000 were mishandled by airline carriers internationally.

.43 bags per 1,000 were lost by airline carriers internationally.

Source: Office of U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer