USA: DOT fines AirTran for deceptive price advertising
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) fined AirTran Airways USD 60,000 for violating federal aviation laws and the Department’s rules prohibiting deceptive price advertising in air travel.
For a period of time in the fall of 2011, AirTran displayed an advertisement on a number of websites advertising $59 one-way fares. The advertisement noted that additional taxes, fees and exclusions would apply, but with no information on the type or amount of taxes or fees. A consumer clicking on the advertisement was taken to a page on AirTran’s website where a list of routes and prices were displayed. Consumers were not provided details about the taxes and fees until they scrolled to the bottom of the page where the information appeared in fine print.
Under DOT’s recently adopted consumer rule that enhances protections for air travelers, carriers will be required, among other things, to include all government taxes and fees in every advertised fare beginning Jan. 26, 2012.
The consent order is available on the Internet at www.regulations.gov, docket DOT-OST-2012-0002.