DOT Fines Ticket Agents for Airline Code-Share Disclosure Violations
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has fined three ticket agents for violating the Department's rules on disclosure of code-share flights. These consent orders are part of an ongoing effort by DOT to ensure that ticket agents comply with the code-share disclosure rules.
DOT issued a $100,000 fine against Liberty Travel and $40,000 fines against both STA Travel and AAA Mid-Atlantic, and all three companies were ordered to cease and desist from further violations. The amount of the fines was based on the specific circumstances of the individual cases.
"When passengers buy an airline ticket, they have a right to know which airline will be operating their flight," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "We will continue to make sure that all companies selling air transportation are transparent with consumers and comply with our code-share disclosure rules."
Under code-sharing, an airline will sell seats on flights using its designator code but the flights are operated by a separate airline.
DOT takes enforcement action when necessary against companies that sell air transportation based on consumer complaints and the Department's own internal investigations. In this case, DOT's Aviation Enforcement Office made telephone calls to a number of agents during January and February of 2013 and inquired about booking certain flights.
During these calls, the reservations agents for all three companies failed to disclose that the flights were being operated under code-share arrangements. The agents identified only the name of the marketing airline and not the corporate name of the airline operating the flight or any other name under which the flight was marketed. This violated DOT rules requiring airlines and ticket agents to inform consumers if a flight is operated under a code-share arrangement, as well as disclose the corporate name of the transporting airline and any other name under which the flight is offered to the public.
DOT has now issued four fines for code-sharing violations this year, following a $60,000 penalty on May 23, 2013 against ticket agent JTB USA.