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Can you get a refund a baggage fee if the airline loses your luggage?

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If an airline loses your luggage, can you get a refund for the baggage fee.  It is wrong to try to get an invite into an airline lounge? We answers these and other pressing frequently-asked questions about flying the friendly skies.

Q: I returned from a cruise and had a flight back home through Chicago.  The plane was delayed so they put me on another flight through Washington. I paid for my checked luggage.  When I got home my luggage wasn't there. I live four hours from the airport, so I went home without it.  I received my bag two days later.  Am I due to receive my luggage fee refunded?

A: New U.S. Dept. of Transportation rules stipulate that if your bag is lost, then the airline must refund your checked bag fee, on top of providing up to $3,300 in compensation for the lost items. However, there’s no compensation merely for a delay. You could certainly contact the airline and request a full or partial refund, and they might give you a travel voucher in the amount you paid. But I doubt they’re going to give you money back. Next time, consider putting your stuff in a sturdy box and shipping it FedEx or UPS ground service. I bet it’ll cost less than the $50 the airline charged you. And the service will be better, with no waiting at the check in line or the luggage carousel.

Q: I recently had a couple of hours before my flight when I arrived at the airport early, but I desperately wanted to watch a big basketball game that was in progress. So I waited in front of the airline’s airport lounge until I saw a friendly looking guy about to enter and asked if I could be his “guest” for a couple of hours, since members are allowed to bring guests in for free and there are always TV’s in the club rooms.  Is there any rule or “law” against gaining entry to an airline lounge using this method? Other than getting kicked out, what’s the risk?

A: I’m pretty sure it’s against the spirit if not the letter of airline rules to invite a guest that you don’t know. United’s Club membership rules state, for example, that you must “accompany” your guests while they visit. And I imagine if an employee saw you lurking outside the club room door they’d get suspicious. You’re not going to get arrested. But your “host” might lose his membership if either of you is caught.

George Hobica is a syndicated travel journalist and founder of the low-airfare listing site Airfarewatchdog.com.