The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has fined online ticket agent Orbitz $50,000 for failing to clearly inform consumers that they may have to pay baggage fees.
The new rule, which went into effect on January 24, requires airlines and ticket agents to inform travellers that when booking a flight, they may have to pay baggage fees as well as the basic ticket price.
For a short period of time after Jan. 24, Orbitz’s website disclosed on the first webpage in which it offered fare quotations for specific itineraries that additional fees for baggage may apply and where consumers could see those fees.
However, according to the DOT, the location of the disclosure may have required consumers to scroll to the bottom of the first webpage, and therefore was not clear and prominent as required by DOT’s rule.
“Airline passengers should be able to determine the full cost of their trip, including baggage fees, quickly and easily,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said.
“The Department adopted its rules on baggage fees to ensure that consumers have complete and accurate information about how much they will have to pay when they book a flight, and we will continue to take enforcement action when carriers and ticket agents fail to comply with our rules.”
When consumers book a flight on-line, carriers must clearly and prominently disclose on the first screen that offers a specific itinerary that additional baggage fees may apply and tell the consumer where they can view the fees.
The rule applies to all airlines selling air transportation in the United States, including foreign carriers.