DOT Fines Qantas on Fee Disclosure

gavelA civil penalty of $100,000 was assessed against Qantas, an Australian air carrier, for violating the U.S. Department of Transportation's (DOT) new rule requiring carriers and ticket agents to inform consumers that they may have to pay baggage fees. The DOT directed Qantas to cease and desist from further violations.

“Airline passengers deserve to have complete and accurate information about how much their flight will cost, including baggage fees, when they first search for flights,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said. “DOT will continue to take enforcement action against carriers and ticket agents when they fail to comply with our aviation consumer rules.”

Under DOT’s new rule, carriers must clearly and prominently disclose on the first screen that offers a fare for a consumer’s specific itinerary that additional fees for baggage may apply, as well as show consumers where they can view the baggage fees. DOT notes that the rule applies to all airlines selling air transportation in the United States, including foreign carriers. 

The DOT said that after Jan. 24, 2012, the date the new requirement took effect, a search of flights on Qantas’ website found that the airline failed to disclose on the first webpage in which it offered fare quotations for specific itineraries that additional fees for baggage may apply and where consumers could see those fees.