USDOT Investigating Allegations of Airline Price Hikes in Wake of Amtrak Derailment
In response to numerous consumer complaints about irregular airfares in the period after the May 12, 2015 derailment of Amtrak Northeast Regional Train Number 188 in Philadelphia, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has sent a letter of inquiry to five air carriers –Delta, American, United, Southwest and JetBlue.
In the letter, USDOT says that it is seeking to determine whether the airlines engaged in unfair or deceptive practices (e.g., price gouging) affecting air travel during the period of time that Amtrak service along the Northeast Corridor was delayed or suspended as a result of the May 12th train derailment.
The letter requests pricing information from the airlines for the air travel routes most likely affected by the temporary shutdown of rail traffic along the corridor. The airlines must also provide an explanation for any increases in average airfare (by market and fare class) that occurred between April 28 and May 26, 2015.
"The idea that any business would seek to take advantage of stranded rail passengers in the wake of such a tragic event is unacceptable," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "This Department takes all allegations of airline price-gouging seriously, and we will pursue a thorough investigation of these consumer complaints."
The airlines receiving the letter have 30 days to respond to USDOT with the requested data and any other information they feel should be taken into account during the investigation.