The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) reports it fined WK Travel, Inc., also known as OneTravel, $95,000 for violating the DOT rules on disclosure of code-share flights and ordered the ticket agent to cease and desist from further violations. The action DOT said, is part of an ongoing effort by DOT to ensure that ticket agents comply with the codeshare disclosure rules.
With today’s consent order, DOT said it continues its enforcement of its consumer protection rules for air travelers. In 2013, the Department assessed a record $7.1 million in fines predominately for violations of its consumer rights regulations, DOT said.
“Consumers deserve to know which airline will be operating their flight as they’re shopping for a ticket,” said DOT 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 necessary.”
Code-sharing is the practice of airlines selling seats on flights using their designator codes when the flights are operated by a separate airline, DOT notes.
In this case, DOT’s Aviation Enforcement Office made telephone calls to the call centers of several websites operated by WK Travel during January and February of 2013 and inquired about booking certain flights. During these calls, the reservations agents failed to disclose that the flights were being operated under codeshare arrangements.
The agents identified only the name of the airline marketing the flight and not the name of airline operating the flight, even when prompted by the caller, DOT said. 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 it takes enforcement action when necessary against companies that sell air transportation based on consumer complaints and the Department’s own internal investigations. Since the beginning of 2013, DOT has issued eight fines for code-share disclosure violations, totaling $555,000.