Flight 1549 survivors receive $5K checks for lost baggage
According to The Travel Insider, current Dept. of Transportation regulations cap the airline's obligation for a lost luggage incident at $3,300 per person for domestic flights. However, few passengers will receive even this much, since the amount of compensation will usually depend on the value of the itemized list of contents that they will be required to supply. The truthful list; after all, the bag might show up again some day.
Once your plane has been turned into a raft however, the airline is apparently happy to toss regulations out the window in hopes of convincing you that a lawsuit would be a harsh way to treat your old buddy, U.S. Airways.
And, really, are these bags even lost? From the pictures I saw, I'd guess not. I suspect the FAA has the watery luggage secure at its investigation site. Good thing those passengers weren't required to provide an itemized list, because it would be easy for the company to check the bags to make sure the lists weren't inflated.
The next time my bag is lost, I'm holding out for 1549 money. Those passengers certainly deserve some compensation for their suffering, and I hope they get it, but I doubt their bags were worth more than mine.