Numerous Airlines Fined for Providing Inaccurate Information to Customers

Passengers were incorrectly informed about "bumping" compensation and baggage liability

Numerous Airlines Fined for Providing Inaccurate Information to Customers
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August 29, 2016

The Department of Transportation (DOT) has fined Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines for providing passengers with inaccurate information.

The information had to do with the amount of compensation the passengers could be provided for being "bumped" from oversold flights, as well as for baggage that was lost, damaged, or delayed.

Alaska Airlines and Southwest Airlines both received a fine of $40,000, while American Airlines was fined $45,000 and United Airlines was fined $35,000. Each airline also received a cease and desist order for any such future violations.

"We are committed to ensuring that air travelers know the rules and have accurate information about compensation when they are bumped from flights and for lost, damaged, or delayed baggage," said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

Under DOT regulations, passengers can receive compensation when they are unwillingly bumped from a flight that was oversold. The amount of compensation is variable, taking into considering several factors such as the planned arrival time of the arranged substitute transportation. Airlines are required to provide passengers in this situation with a written statement that explains the terms, conditions, and limits of this type of compensation and that also describes the rules and criteria used by the airline to determine boarding priority. They are also required to provide such a statement to anyone who requests one at any airport location selling tickets as well as all of its boarding locations.

In addition, the DOT also prohibits U.S. airlines from limiting how liable they are for either direct or consequential monetary damages caused by the loss of, damage to, or delay in the delivery of a passenger's baggage over domestic transport as long as the damages are reasonable, actual, and verifiable. The airlines cannot limit their liability in this situation for any monetary amount less than $3,500, and they are required to provide proper notice of their baggage liability limit to passengers either on or with their tickets.