The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) fined two ticket agents for violating the Department’s rules on disclosure of code-share flights with DOT issuing a $125,000 fine against Carlson Wagonlit Travel and a $65,000 fine against Frosch International Travel. Both companies were ordered to cease and desist from further violations.
DOT says the amount of the fines was based on the specific circumstances of the individual cases. The consent orders are part of an ongoing effort by DOT to ensure that ticket agents comply with the code-share disclosure rules, DOT said.
"No one wants to arrive to their gate and learn for the first time that the airline they thought was operating their flight actually sold them a ticket for another airline,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “We will continue to make sure that all companies selling air transportation are transparent with consumers and will take enforcement action when they fail to disclose code-sharing arrangements.”
Under code-sharing, an airline sells seats on flights using its designator code, but the flights are operated by a separate airline, DOT said.
In this case, DOT’s Aviation Enforcement Office said it made telephone calls to a number of agents during January and February of 2013 and inquired about booking certain flights. During these calls, the reservations agents for both companies failed to disclose that the flights were being operated under code-share arrangements. The agents identified only the name of the airline marketing the flight and not the name of airline operating the flight.
This violated DOT rules requiring airlines and ticket agents to inform consumers if a flight is operated under a code-share arrangement, as well as disclose the corporate name of the transporting airline and any other name under which the flight is offered to the public, DOT said.
DOT takes enforcement action when necessary against companies that sell air transportation based on consumer complaints and the Department’s own internal investigations. DOT has now issued six fines for code-sharing violations this year, totaling $430,000.