USA: DOT fines companies for violating Consumer Protection and Price Advertising Rules
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) fined online travel agent Travelocity $180,000 for violating the Department’s rule on full-fare advertising by failing to include fuel surcharges and other fees in advertised airfares and ordered it to cease and desist from further violations. The Department’s Aviation Enforcement Office found that Travelocity’s “flexible dates tool” did not always include fuel surcharges that were part of many international airfares. Consumers searching for flights were shown fares from lowest to highest, resulting in fares that omitted the surcharges being listed above those in which the surcharges were included.
The DOT also fined Philippine Airlines, Santa Barbara Airlines, and ticket agent Pacific for Less for violating the Department’s expanded airline passenger protection rules that took effect in January. Philippine Airlines and Pacific for Less violated the rule requiring all taxes and fees be included in advertised fares. Philippine Airlines was assessed a civil penalty of $80,000 and Pacific for Less was assessed a civil penalty of $20,000. Santa Barbara Airlines, a carrier based in Venezuela, violated the rule requiring the disclosure of fees for baggage, and was assessed a civil penalty of $80,000. Each company was also ordered to cease and desist from further violations.