Skift Take

The DOT is especially sensitive these days to airlines' violations of transparency rules, especially since a stronger full-fare advertising rule went into effect in January 2012.

The DOT slapped British Airways with a $250,000 fine for violating rules on full-fare advertising and baggage handling reimbursements.

The DOT also ordered the airline to discontinue such practices.

Among the transgressions, the DOT stated that British Airways:

  • Promoted award travel in email marketing and on its websites without hyperlinking to taxes and government fees necessary to redeem the award travel;
  • Neglected to disclose fuel surcharges and other carrier-imposed charges in such award travel promotions;
  • Deceptively promoted one-way fares without disclosing that the fares were available only when purchasing round-trip tickets; and
  • Violated the Montreal Convention, an international agreement, by failing to compensate travelers for loss, damage or theft of “money, jewelry, electronic devices or silverware” from checked bags in international travel.

Some of the carrier-imposed surcharges that British Airways neglected to disclosed in its award travel promotions would have increased the total amount to be paid by up to $600 per person, the DOT stated.

“Consumers deserve fair treatment from airlines when it comes to price advertising and being reimbursed for lost, damaged or stolen baggage,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “To surprise consumers at the last minute of the purchase process with additional unadvertised costs is deceptive and unacceptable. At DOT we will continue to make sure airlines treat their customers with the respect they deserve.”


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Tags: british airways, fees

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