Consumer Protection

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Canada: new Air Price Advertising Rules

In December 2011, the Government of Canada announced that the Canadian Transportation Agency would develop regulations requiring all-inclusive air price advertising. These regulations are now published on Part II of the Canada Gazette.

The regulations support two key objectives:

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USA: DOT collected USD 3.6 M in fines for air passenger rule violations in 2012

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) said it levied USD 3.6 million in penalties for 2012 violations of the department’s consumer-protection rules for air passengers. The total is up from USD 3.3 million in 2011. During 2012, the Department issued 49 consent orders for consumer rule violations, the most recent two against Copa Airlines and Virgin America for not strictly adhering to the DOT’s rules for lengthy tarmac delays.

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USA: Federal Trade Commission requires hotels to disclose all mandatory surcharges

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has warned 22 hotel operators that their online reservation sites may violate the law by providing a deceptively low estimate of what consumers can expect to pay for their hotel rooms. According to the FTC letters, one common complaint consumers raised involved mandatory fees hotels charge for amenities such as newspapers, use of onsite exercise or pool facilities, or internet access, sometimes referred to as ‘resort fees'.

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USA: DOT fines Travelzoo for violation of Code-Share Disclosure Rules

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has assessed a USD 50,000 penalty against the online ticket agent Travelzoo for failing to properly disclose to consumers when flights were being operated under a code-sharing arrangement, and ordered the company to cease and desist from future violations.

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Canada: class action over expiring loyalty program points

On March 6, 2012, the Quebec Superior Court authorized a class action against Groupe Aeroplan Inc. relating to its decision to implement expiry dates on its loyalty program points (“Miles”). Under the new Aeroplan Terms and Conditions, if there is no activity in a member's Aeroplan account within a 12-month period, the Miles will expire. Accumulated Miles will also expire if they are not used within seven years of acquisition.

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U.S.-DOT: new rules for charter operators

The Transportation Department has issued a guidance letter to tour operators and others in the public charter industry, imposing new requirements in the wake of the March collapse of Direct Air. According to the DOT, the company:

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Bulgaria: new tourism legislation in parliament

The Bulgarian Parliament is about to enact a new tourism law and has adopted a draft at first reading. The purposes of the draft law are:

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UK: airlines to include debit card surcharges in headline prices

Following enforcement action of the U.K. Office of Fair Trading (OFT), 12 airlines have agreed to include debit card surcharges in the headline price rather than surprise consumers at the end of the booking process. Any surcharges for paying by credit card will be easy to find when booking online. Aer Lingus, BMI Baby, Eastern Airways, easyJet, Flybe, German Wings, Jet2, Lufthansa, Ryanair, Thomas Cook, Thomson (TUI) and Wizz Air were subject to an OFT consumer law investigation and have agreed to change their practices.

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Canada: Transportation Agency decides in flight cancellation and overbooking cases

In five separate decisions of June 28, 2012, the Canadian Transportation Agency ruled on the reasonableness of international tariff provisions of Air Canada, WestJet and Air Transat, and domestic tariff provisions of Air Canada and WestJet relating to the overbooking, cancellation, delay and rerouting of flights.

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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.

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