The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), in its continuing effort to protect airline consumers, has assessed a $50,000 penalty against the online ticket agent Travelzoo for failing to properly disclose to consumers when flights were being operated under a code-sharing arrangement, and ordered the company to cease and desist from future violations.
“Passengers deserve to know which airline will be operating their flight before they purchase their tickets,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “We will continue to take enforcement action against airlines and ticket agents when they fail to comply with our code-sharing disclosure rules.”
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. 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 Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings revealed that for a period of time this year, Travelzoo failed to properly disclose on its website, www.fly.com, the existence of code-sharing arrangements when advertising code-share flights operated on behalf of a major air carrier by a regional air carrier. Travelzoo did not display the corporate names of the carriers operating the flights or any other names under which those flights were sold to the public on its flight itinerary pages. As a result, consumers were unable to learn, at an early stage of the booking process, the identity of the airline that would actually operate the aircraft on which they would be flying.
The consent order against Travelzoo is available on the Internet at www.regulations.gov, docket DOT-OST-2012-0002.