DOT nabs TripAdvisor for fares in wrong font size

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TripAdvisor was assessed an $80,000 penalty by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for what the department said were violations related to listing of airfares and codesharing carriers. The company has to pay only $40,000, and the other $40,000 will be forgiven if TripAdvisor refrains from repeat violations for one year.

Specifically, TripAdvisor listed base fares at the same font size as total fares — as opposed to the larger font size for total fares required by the DOT.

TripAdvisor also failed to include the names of some regional airlines that were operating certain flights on behalf of some of the larger carriers in codesharing agreements, according to the DOT. Such regulations for codesharing and full-fee disclosure went into effect in late January.

TripAdvisor said it was “surprised” by the DOT’s ruling, adding that it’s the only major travel site to have a so-called “Fees Estimator” that breaks down everything from taxes to baggage fees.

“We have always broken down total fares to show base fares, taxes and fees and have always shown when flights are operated under codeshare,” TripAdvisor spokeswoman Natalia Garcia said in a statement. “However, naturally we have made the Department of Transportation’s requested changes to be compliant with the regulations, including reducing the display of the base fare by two font sizes against the total fare in one placement in our search results.”

Follow Danny King on Twitter @dktravelweekly.  

Correction: TripAdvisor is paying a $40,000 fine to the DOT, not $80,000 as previously reported. 

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