The Italian air carrier Alitalia was fined $125,000 by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for providing inaccurate information on its website regarding its policy on compensation to passengers on delayed and cancelled flights.
While Alitalia’s website displayed a copy of the carrier’s General Conditions of Carriage (GCC) as required by DOT rules, and specifically adopted rules required by the European Union (EU) regarding compensation for delayed and cancelled flights, the carrier claimed a right to refuse such compensation, citing provisions in its tariff that exempted travel from the U.S. from the terms of the GCC.
The DOT said the consent order finds that the inconsistent statements of policy contained in the tariff and the GCC were an unfair and deceptive trade practice in violation of U.S. law. The DOT order directs the carrier to revise its tariff and GCC to reflect the carrier’s actual policy regarding compensation in cases of delayed or cancelled flights to or from the United States.
It also ordered the carrier to cease and desist from further violations of the law prohibiting airlines from engaging in unfair and deceptive practices.
Following a complaint from two Alitalia passengers whose flights were canceled, the DOT's Aviation Enforcement Office investigated the carrier’s refusal to pay cash compensation to the passengers.