Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings
The Office of the Assistant General Counsel for Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings, including its Aviation Consumer Protection Division, monitors compliance with and investigates violations of the Department of Transportation’s (Department) aviation economic, consumer protection, and civil rights requirements. The Office also provides legal review and support on aviation economic licensing matters.
Aviation Consumer Protection and Civil Rights Requirements
Consumer protection compliance and enforcement activities relate to areas such as unfair and deceptive practices and unfair competition by air carriers and travel agents, deceptive airline advertising (e.g., fare, on-time performance, schedule, code sharing, etc.), and violations of rules concerning denied boarding compensation, ticket refunds, baggage liability requirements, and charter flights.
The Office is also very active in civil rights enforcement. The Department is charged with prohibiting discrimination by airlines and has committed to protecting consumers in this regard. The Office focuses on ensuring that individuals with disabilities obtain nondiscriminatory access to the air transportation system and that the public is not subjected by airlines to unlawful discrimination on the basis of race, religion, national origin or sex during the course of their air transportation.
Where appropriate, the Office pursues enforcement action, which may be in the nature of warning letters or more formal action, such as consent orders or administrative litigation to impose cease and desist provisions and civil penalties on those who violate Department regulations or orders and statutes enforced by the Department. It also can seek injunctive relief in U.S. District Courts.
Legal Review and Support on Aviation Economic Licensing Matters
The Office provides legal review and support on activities concerning airline authority. This includes unauthorized air transportation operations by foreign carriers within the U.S. (i.e., cabotage) or to or from the U.S. The Office also reviews the marketing or operation (i.e., holding out of service or operation) of air transportation service by unauthorized U.S. companies. Enforcement action is pursued against carriers or other companies offering service for which they have not been found fit by the Department. Requirements relating to continuing fitness (e.g., reporting requirements and insurance rules) are also enforced to ensure that carriers remain in compliance with conditions on their authority.
Aviation Consumer Protection Division
The Aviation Consumer Protection Division receives complaints from members of the public regarding air travel consumer issues. The Office verifies compliance with the Department’s aviation consumer protection requirements and provides guidance to the industry and members of the public on consumer protection matters. The Office also makes available to the public information on pertinent consumer matters.