The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) on Thursday issued fines against Liberty Travel, STA Travel and AAA Mid-Atlantic for violating its rules on disclosing codeshare flights.
The DOT issued a $100,000 fine to Liberty Travel and $40,000 fines against both STA Travel and AAA Mid-Atlantic after reservation agents from all three companies failed to disclose that flights were being operated under codeshare arrangements when the DOT's Aviation Enforcement Office called agents in January and February inquiring about booking flights.
The agents had identified only the name of the marketing airline and not the corporate name of the airline operating the flight or any other name under which the flight was marketed, according to the DOT.
The action violated DOT rules requiring airlines and ticket agents to inform consumers if a flight is operated under a codeshare arrangement as well as to disclose the corporate name of the transporting airline and any other name under which the flight is offered to the public.
All three companies were ordered to cease and desist from further violations.
"When passengers buy an airline ticket, they have a right to know which airline will be operating their flight," U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. "We will continue to make sure that all companies selling air transportation are transparent with consumers and comply with our codeshare disclosure rules."
In May, the DOT assessed a $60,000 penalty on travel agency JTB USA
for failing to disclose the identity of airlines involved in codeshare flights.
The enforcement actions are part of larger effort by the DOT to ensure that ticket agents comply with the codeshare disclosure rules. Earlier this year, the DOT outlined plans to make "secret shopper" test calls
to major travel agencies and some airlines to assess their compliance with disclosure rules about booking airline codeshare flights. These violations appear to be a result of those calls. Follow Michelle Baran on Twitter @mbtravelweekly.