The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has fined Amadeus, a global distribution system (GDS), $95,000 for providing software to travel agencies that resulted in their websites failing to disclose to consumers when flights were being operated under a code-sharing arrangement. Amadeus is the first GDS to be fined by DOT.
“When passengers buy an airline ticket, they have a right to know which airline will be operating their flight,” said DOT Secretary Ray LaHood. “We expect all companies that sell or facilitate the sale of air transportation - airlines, travel agents and global distribution systems alike - to comply with the laws we enforce.”
Under code-sharing, an airline will sell tickets on flights that use its designator code, but are operated by a different 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. The department sent a notice to airlines and ticket agents in January reminding them of the new code-share disclosure requirements.
In May alone, the Department fined five travel agents for failing to adequately disclose code-share arrangements on their websites. In a number of these cases, the lack of code-share information was related to improperly installed software from Amadeus.