Orbitz fined for improper baggage-fee disclosure

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The Department of Transportation has fined Orbitz for failing to properly disclose baggage fees, a violation of the DOT consumer-protection rules that went into effect Jan. 24.

The rule requires airlines and ticket agents to inform travelers that when booking a flight, they may have to pay baggage fees as well as the fare.

For a brief period 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, DOT said.

However, the location of the disclosure may have required consumers to scroll to the bottom of the page, and therefore was not clear and prominent, as required by DOT’s rule.

Orbitz has to pay $25,000, and must pay another $25,000 if it commits the offense again within a year.

Orbitz said that it tried to comply with the regulation and always had the baggage-fee notice posted on its first webpage with a baggage-fee link. It said that when transitioning to an enhanced platform, the page still displayed the link, but farther down on the page.

As soon as the DOT notified Orbitz of the violation, Orbitz said it immediately moved the link up to the top of the first webpage.

Follow Kate Rice on Twitter @krtravelweekly.

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