DOT Fines Allegiant AirFebruary 16, 2012 By: George Dooley Travel Agent
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) reports it fined Allegiant Air $100,000 for violating rules protecting air travelers with disabilities as well as the DOT's rule for full-fare advertising.
The DOT 's Aviation Enforcement Office said it reviewed a sample of the disability-related complaints that Allegiant received directly from passengers in 2009 and 2010, as well as disability complaints against Allegiant that the Department received directly from passengers during 2009 and 2010.
The DOT found that in a number of instances, Allegiant responded to the complaints through a telephone call rather than in writing as required by the rule, and that the carrier both failed to record all of the disability complaints it received and to properly categorize and account for all the issues that were raised in the complaints.
In addition, the Enforcement Office found that Allegiant violated DOT’s price advertising rule by posting offers on its homepage for free flights to Las Vegas and Tampa Bay, Fla. The banner for the Las Vegas ads did not indicate that taxes and fees would be extra. Although an asterisk appeared after the words “Fly Free,” there was no information on taxes and fees on the page where the asterisk appeared, and there was no hyperlink that took consumers to a description of required taxes and fees.
Instead, the DOT said, once consumers clicked on the link, they were taken to a page where they could see the amount of taxes and fees only after scrolling to the bottom of the page. For the Las Vegas and Tampa ads, Allegiant also failed to include its fee of $14.99 for tickets purchased anywhere except at one of the carrier’s airport ticket offices in the initial fare quote provided on the website as required by DOT.
These ads violated the Department’s rule requiring ads for airfares to identify the existence and amount of government-imposed taxes and fees at the first point a fare is displayed and to include in the initial fare quotes appearing on the website all carrier-imposed fees that passengers must pay to make on-line bookings.
Under DOT’s new advertising rule, which became effective on Jan. 26, 2012, carriers and ticket agents must show the total price, including all government taxes and fees, in every advertised fare.