DOT Fines Flythere4less For Violation Of Code Share Disclosure Rules


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DOT Fines Flythere4less For Violation Of Code Share Disclosure Rules

By Mike Mitchell

April 10, 2011 - The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), in its continuing effort to protect airline consumers, has fined the on-line ticket agent Flythere4less $40,000 for failing to disclose to consumers when flights were being operated under a code-sharing arrangement.  

 “When passengers buy an airline ticket, they have a right to know which airline will be operating their flight,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.  “We will continue to ensure that airlines and ticket agents comply with our code-sharing rules.” 

Under code sharing, an airline will sell tickets on flights that use its designator code but are operated by a separate airline. DOT rules require airlines and ticket agents to disclose to consumers, before they book a flight, if the flight is operated under a code-sharing arrangement. 

The disclosure must include the corporate name of the transporting carrier and any other name under which the flight is offered to the public. Under a new law, when tickets are purchased on the Internet, code-share information must be easily viewable on the first display of a Web site following a search for flights corresponding to a desired itinerary. 

Section 257.4 of the Department’s code-share disclosure rule states that the holding out or sale of scheduled passenger air transportation involving a code-sharing arrangement is an unfair and deceptive trade practice in violation of 49 U.S.C. § 41712 unless, in conjunction with that holding out or sale, the advertiser follows certain notice requirements, including those of 14 CFR 257.5(d).  

The specific terms of section 257.5(d) require that print advertisements, including those published on the Internet, “prominently disclose that the advertised service may involve travel on another carrier,” “clearly indicate the nature of the service in reasonably sized type,” and “identify all potential transporting carriers… by corporate name and by any other name under which that service is held out to the public.” 

An investigation by the Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings (Enforcement Office) revealed a significant lack of compliance by Flythere4less with section 257.5. During at least the latter half of 2010, Flythere4less failed to properly disclose the existence of code-sharing arrangements when advertising code-share flights operated on behalf of a major air carrier by a regional air carrier on its Internet website.


Specifically, it did not display the corporate names of the transporting carriers and any other names under which those flights were held out to the public on its flight itinerary pages. Flythere4less’ failure to properly disclose the existence of code-sharing arrangements and the names of the transporting carriers could have resulted in consumers being deceived regarding the identity of the airline that was actually to operate the aircraft on which the consumer would be flying.

The listings did not display the corporate names of the operating carriers and other names under which the carriers operating the flights do business.  Under the order, Flythere4less will pay $20,000 within the next 90 days and an additional $20,000 if it violates the code-sharing rules again in the next year.
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