The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today fined the online ticket agent Lowestfare.com, LLC $50,000 for failing to adequately disclose to consumers when flights were being operated under a code-sharing arrangement. Today’s action is part of the Department’s effort to ensure that all sellers of air transportation are complying with DOT’s code-share disclosure rules.
“Consumers buying tickets for air travel have the right to know which airline will be operating their flights,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “We will continue to monitor compliance with our code-sharing disclosure rules and take enforcement action when we find violations.”
Under code-sharing, an airline will sell tickets on flights that use its designator code, but are operated by a separate airline. DOT rules require airlines and ticket agents to disclose to consumers, before they book a flight, if the flight is operated under a code-sharing arrangement. The disclosure must include the corporate name of the transporting carrier and any other name under which the flight is offered to the public. Under a new law, when tickets are purchased on the Internet, code-share information must be easily viewable on the first display of a website following a search for flights corresponding to a desired itinerary.
An investigation by the Department’s Aviation Enforcement Office found that for a period of time during 2010, Lowestfare failed to properly disclose code-sharing arrangements when it advertised flights on its Internet site being operated on behalf of a major airline by a regional carrier. Lowestfare’s listings did not include the corporate names of the carriers or other names under which those flights were advertised to the public.