First Penalty For A Violation Of The DOT's New Consumer Protection Rules
The U.S. DOT has assessed a civil penalty of $130,000 against the Mexican airline Volaris for failing to inform consumers that they may have to pay baggage fees when buying a ticket on the carrier. This is the first penalty assessed for a violation of the provisions of the Department’s new aviation consumer rule that took effect this past January.
“We adopted our rule on baggage fees to make sure that consumers have complete and accurate information about how much they will have to pay when they book a flight,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said. “We will continue to take enforcement action when carriers fail to comply with our rules.”
Under DOT’s new rule, carriers must clearly and prominently disclose on the first screen that offers a fare for a customer’s specific itinerary that additional fees for baggage may apply, as well as show consumers where they can view the baggage fees. The rule applies to all airlines selling air transportation in the United States, including foreign carriers.
For a period of time beginning Jan. 24, 2012, the date the new requirement took effect, a search of flights on Volaris’ website displayed itineraries that listed the fares for outbound and inbound flights, but failed to inform consumers that additional baggage fees might apply.