DOT Fines Ticket Agents For Violations Of Code Share Disclosure Rules


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DOT Fines Ticket Agents For Violations Of Code Share Disclosure Rules

By Jim Douglas

May 8, 2011 - The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) on Friday fined five online ticket agents for failing to adequately disclose to consumers when flights were being operated under a code-sharing arrangement.

Friday’s action follows similar fines against two other agents and is part of the Department’s effort to ensure that sellers of air transportation are complying with DOT’s code-share disclosure rules.

Fareportal, Inc. was assessed a $50,000 civil penalty, American Travel Solutions, LLC, was assessed $45,000, AirGorilla, LLC, was assessed $30,000, Wholesale Travel Center, Inc., was assessed $30,000, and Automobile Club of New York, Inc. was assessed $20,000 for violating the Department’s code-share disclosure requirements.

Last month, Flythere4less was assessed a $40,000 civil penalty and Airtrade International, Inc. was assessed a $50,000 penalty for code-share disclosure violations. “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.  “I hope these fines serve as a warning to airlines and ticket agents that we will continue to take enforcement action when we find violations of 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 website following a search for flights corresponding to a desired itinerary.

Investigations by the Department’s Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings revealed that the ticket agents, at least during the latter half of 2010, violated the code-share disclosure rules by failing to disclose that certain flights listed on their.

Internet sites were being operated by a regional carrier on behalf of a major airline. The listings did not display the corporate names of the operating carriers and other names under which the carriers operating the flights do business.

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