First penalty assessed for a violation of the Department’s new airline consumer rules
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today assessed a civil penalty of $80,000 against Air India for failing to post customer service and tarmac delay contingency plans on its website as well as failing to adequately inform passengers about its optional fees. This is the first penalty assessed for a violation of the Department’s new airline consumer rules that took effect Aug. 23, 2011.
“Our new airline consumer rules help ensure that passengers are fully informed about airline services and fees and what to expect if their flight is delayed on the tarmac,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said. “We will continue to monitor carriers to make sure they comply with our rules and take enforcement action when they do not.”
Beginning Aug. 23, 2011, foreign carriers operating to the United States with at least one aircraft of 30 or more seats have been required to adopt contingency plans for lengthy tarmac delays as well as customer service plans, and to post these plans on their websites. U.S. carriers have been covered by this requirement since April 29, 2010.
In addition, also beginning Aug. 23, both U.S. carriers and foreign carriers with a website that sells tickets to U.S. consumers have been required to include on their homepages a prominent hyperlink that takes viewers directly to a page that shows all fees for optional services the carrier charges, including baggage fees. Air India failed to post its customer service and tarmac delay contingency plans and to provide a link to its optional fees by the required date.
The consent order is available on the Internet at www.regulations.gov, docket DOT-OST-2012-0002.