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OST-2013-0004 - Consent Orders for 2013

 

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Legendary Journeys, Inc.

Order 2013-1-16
OST-2013-0004 - Violations of 49 USC § 41712 and 14 CFR 399.84(a)

Issued and Served January 25, 2013

Consent Order

This consent order concerns Internet advertisements by Legendary Journeys, Inc. that failed to comply with the Department’s full-fare advertising rule, 14 CFR 399.84(a), and constituted an unfair and deceptive practice prohibited by 49 USC § 41712. It directs Legendary Journeys to cease and desist from further similar violations of section 399.84(a) and section 41712 and assesses Legendary Journeys a compromise civil penalty of $40,000.

An investigation by the Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings found that Legendary Journeys advertised cruise packages with an air component that did not state the entire price to be paid by the consumer. Specifically, Legendary Journeys’ website displayed prices for air/cruise packages that, instead of showing the entire price to be paid by the consumer, included language in a disclaimer paragraph toward the bottom of the advertisement stating that taxes, agent-imposed fees, and other applicable fees would be added.

Furthermore, Legendary Journeys included the phrase “FREE AIR” or “INCLUDES FREE AIR” adjacent to the stated price on its cruise-package advertisements. The use of the phrase “FREE AIR” was deceptive because the air fare was not actually free as claimed by the ticket agent. Consumers were given the option of either purchasing the cruise package with air for the advertised price plus taxes and fees, or purchasing the package without air, in which case the consumer would receive a $100-$200 “credit.” Such conduct violates the requirements of 14 CFR 399.84(a) and constitutes an unfair and deceptive practice prohibited under 49 USC § 41712.

By: Samuel Podberesky

http://lj.travel


 

Sky King, Inc.

Order 2013-2-7
OST-2013-0004 - Violations of 49 USC § 41712 and 14 CFR Parts 212 and 380

Issued and Served February 7, 2013

Consent Order

This consent order concerns violations of certain consumer protection provisions of the Department of Transportation’s Public Charter regulations by Sky King, Inc., a direct air carrier for a number of Public Charter programs filed by Southern Sky Air & Tours d/b/a Myrtle Beach Direct Air & Tours. In violation of 14 CFR Parts 212 and 380, Sky King operated numerous Public Charter flights on behalf of Direct Air without first receiving the full charter price for those flights, thereby operating on the basis of prospective payments or credits and it failed to make reasonable efforts to ascertain before undertaking Public Charter flights that the charter operator was in compliance with 14 CFR Part 380. In addition, subsequent to the cessation of Direct Air’s operations and in violation of 14 CFR Parts 212 and 380, Sky King cancelled charter flights less than ten days before the scheduled departure date and failed to return to their points of origin all passengers who purchased round-trip transportation on Sky King-operated Public Charter flights and whom Sky King had already transported on their outbound flights. These activities constituted unfair and deceptive practices and unfair methods of competition in violation of 49 USC § 41712. This order directs Sky King to cease and desist from future violations of section 41712 and the aforementioned Federal regulations and assesses the carrier a compromise civil penalty of $500,000.

Sky King was the direct air carrier in the Public Charter program covered by Public Charter Prospectus 11-045, which involved 3,052 flights on a variety of routes between cities in the Midwest and Northeast and points in Florida and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, for the period from September 7, 2011, to November 16, 2012. The Public Charter operator was Southern Sky Air & Tours d/b/a Myrtle Beach Direct Air & Tours.

Beginning with flights departing on January 18, 2012, sufficient funds were not transferred from Direct Air’s escrow account to Sky King prior to the operation of the pertinent flights. Sky King thus had early notice that Direct Air was not complying with the Department’s Public Charter regulations. At this time, pursuant to 14 CFR 212.3(d) and 380.40, Sky King should have undertaken reasonable efforts to verify that Direct Air was operating in compliance with Part 380. Rather, Sky King suffered Direct Air’s conduct and, in violation of 14 CFR 212.3(e) and 380.11, continued to operate flights listed in Public Charter Prospectus 11-045 without requiring from Direct Air payment in full of the total charter price. By March 13, 2012, Direct Air owed $951,536 to Sky King for flights Sky King had completed on Direct Air’s behalf.

On March 13, 2012, Sky King ceased all flights under the Public Charter program. The Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings immediately contacted Sky King about this matter. The Enforcement Office reminded Sky King of the carrier’s obligations under 14 CFR 380.43 to not cancel charter flights less than ten days before the scheduled departure date and under 14 CFR 212.3(f) to return all passengers who had purchased round-trip transportation and whom it carried on their outbound journeys. Nevertheless, Sky King failed to ensure the return of stranded passengers.

By: Samuel Podberesky

DOT Fines Sky King for Charter Violations Related to Direct Air's Ceasing Service - DOT Press Release

http://www.flyskyking.net


 

United Air Lines, Inc.

Order 2013-2-9
OST-2013-0004 - Violations of 14 CFR 259.4 and 244.3 and 49 USC §§ 41708 and 41712

Issued and Served February 11, 2013

Consent Order

This consent order concerns violations of 14 CFR Parts 259 and 244 and 49 USC §§ 41708 and 41712, involving the failure by United Air Lines, Inc., as required, to inform passengers on a flight delayed at the gate of the opportunity to deplane, as well as its unwarranted inclusion of the flight in its July 2012 Tarmac Delay Report. This order directs United to cease and desist from future similar violations of Parts 259 and 244 and sections 41712 and 41708 and assesses the carrier $130,000 in civil penalties.

United is an air carrier as defined by 49 USC § 40102(a)(2)4 that operates scheduled service at Chicago-O’Hare International Airport, a large hub airport, and that uses at least one aircraft having a design capacity of more than 30 passenger seats. United has adopted a contingency plan for lengthy tarmac delays covering its scheduled passenger operations at ORD. United’s contingency plan stipulates that the carrier will ensure that passengers on the delayed flight receive notifications beginning 30 minutes after the scheduled departure time and every 30 minutes thereafter that they have the opportunity to deplane from an aircraft that is at the gate or another disembarkation area with the door open if the opportunity to deplane actually exists.

United was scheduled to operate flight 881, a Boeing 747 with 357 passengers on board, from ORD to Narita International Airport in Japan on May 7, 2012. United boarded flight 881 and the aircraft was pushed back from the gate at ORD at 12:38 pm (local time); however, because of a maintenance issue, the aircraft returned to a gate at 2:25 pm and the doors were opened. Once at the gate and the opportunity to deplane existed, United failed to make an announcement notifying passengers of that opportunity to deplane. The aircraft doors were closed again at 3:10 pm, but because of another mechanical issue the flight was ultimately canceled and passengers deplaned at 5:22 pm. Three passengers on board flight 881 filed complaints with the Department’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division alleging that passengers were not notified that they had the opportunity to deplane the aircraft during this delay.

By: Samuel Podberseky

US DOT Fines United for Violating Tarmac Delay Rule - DOT Press Release

http://www.united.com/


 

Michael & Elena Gurevich v Compagnia Aereas Italiana S.p.A.

Order 2013-3-12
OST-2012-0040

Issued and Served March 28, 2013

Consent Order and Order of Dismissal

On March 15, 2012, Michael Gurevich and Elena Gurevich filed a third-party complaint under 14 CFR 302.401 against Compagnia Aerea Italiana, S.p.A. alleging that the carrier violated its contract of carriage when it denied compensation to the petitioners in a putative class action for two cancelled flights in 2009. The complaint states that the contract of carriage is embodied in the carrier’s General Conditions of Carriage, which are displayed on the carrier’s website, and specifically adopt the compensation policy required under European Union rules. In denying liability under that compensation policy, the carrier, according to the complaint, violated its contract of carriage and engaged in unfair and deceptive business practices in violation of 49 USC § 41712.

This order finds that Alitalia’s failure to provide clear and accurate disclosure of its policy regarding compensation for delayed and cancelled flights and of the existence of differences between the carrier’s General Conditions of Carriage as displayed on its website and its tariffs filed with the Department, specifically Rule 55, constituted unfair and deceptive trade practices. In addition, the order directs the carrier to cease and desist from further similar violations of the cited statute, assesses a compromise civil penalty of $125,000, and dismisses the complaint filed in this docket.

By: Samuel Podberesky

DOT Fines Alitalia for Misleading Information on Compensation for Canceled Flights - DOT Press Release


 

Caribbean Airlines, Inc.

Order 2013-3-15
OST-2013-0004 - Violations of 14 CFR Part 259 and 49 USC § 41712

Issued and Served March 29, 2013

Consent Order

This consent order concerns violations by Caribbean Airlines Limited of 14 CFR Part 259 and 49 USC § 41712. Specifically, the carrier failed to adhere to the assurances in its contingency plan for lengthy tarmac delays that the carrier (1) would not allow an aircraft to remain on the tarmac for more than four hours before providing passengers an opportunity to deplane, and (2) would provide customers with food and potable water no later than two hours after the aircraft left the gate in the case of a tarmac delay. This order directs Caribbean to cease and desist from future similar violations of 14 CFR Part 259 and 49 USC § 41712 and assesses the carrier $100,000 in civil penalties.

We view seriously Caribbean’s violation of 14 CFR Part 259 and 49 USC § 41712. Accordingly, after carefully considering all the facts in this case, including those set forth above, the Enforcement Office believes that enforcement action is warranted. By this order, the Department finds that Caribbean failed to adhere to the assurances in its contingency plan for lengthy tarmac delays that the carrier would not permit an aircraft to remain on the tarmac for more than four hours without providing passengers an opportunity to deplane and that passengers would be provided with food and potable water no later than two hours after the aircraft left the gate. Caribbean forced a total of 154 passengers on flight 421 to remain on the tarmac for nearly four and a half hours without the opportunity to deplane. Additionally, Caribbean forced those passengers to remain on the plane for more than four hours before providing them with food and water.

By: Samuel Podberesky

DOT Fines Caribbean Airlines for Denying Passengers Opportunity to Leave Plane, Failing to Provide Food and Water During Lengthy Tarmac Delay - DOT Press Release

http://caribbean-airlines.com


 

Southwest Airlines Co.

Order 2013-5-1
OST-2013-0004 - Violations of 14 CFR 259.7(c), 14 CFR 382.155 and 49 USC §§ 41702, 41705 and 41712

Issued and Served May 1, 2013

Consent Order

This consent order concerns violations by Southwest Airlines Co. of 14 CFR Part 382 requiring carriers to provide timely dispositive written responses to written disability-related air travel complaints alleging a violation of Part 382 and 14 CFR Part 259 requiring carriers to provide a timely substantive written response to written consumer complaints, and related statutory provisions, 49 USC §§ 41702 and 41705. Violations of 14 CFR Parts 382 and 259 constitute violations of 49 USC § 41712, which prohibits carriers from engaging in unfair and deceptive practices and unfair methods of competition.

The violations addressed in this order were found during an April 2012 on-site regulatory compliance inspection at Southwest’s headquarters conducted by the staff of the Department’s Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings. This order directs Southwest to cease and desist from future similar violations and assesses a compromise civil penalty of $150,000.

The Enforcement Office found that Southwest failed to respond timely to a large number of disability- and consumer-related complaints that it received during a seven month period of time beginning in June 2011 through January 2012. Southwest was unaware that passengers had filed complaints with the carrier during that time period because of a problem associated with its website. After Southwest discovered the problem with its website, seven months after it began, Southwest responded to the consumers; however, the majority of the responses were dated outside of the timeframes prescribed in 14 CFR 382.155 and 14 CFR 259.7(c). Southwest concedes that its responses to the disability-related complaints that it received during that time period were dated outside of the timeframes of section 382.155(d). Additionally, the Enforcement Office found that each of Southwest’s responses to the disability-related complaints that it received during that time period merely provided a summary of Southwest’s policy regarding the disability-related issues raised by the passengers and did not address the specific facts in each passenger’s complaint, in violation of section 382.155(d). Furthermore, Southwest failed to specifically admit or deny whether a violation of the substantive portions of Part 382 that were at issue in the complaints occurred, in violation of 14 CFR 382.155(d).

By: Samuel Podberesky

DOT Fines Southwest Over Late, Incomplete Responses to Consumer Complaint - DOT Press Release

http://www.southwest.com


 

Air China Limited

Order 2013-5-3
OST-2013-0004 - Violations of 14 CFR Part 259 and 49 USC § 41712

Issued and Served May 2, 2013

Consent Order

This consent order concerns violations by Air China Limited of 14 CFR Part 259 and 49 USC § 41712. Specifically, the carrier failed to inform passengers on a flight delayed at the gate for a lengthy period of time of the opportunity to deplane. In addition, Air China failed to include certain assurances in its contingency plan for lengthy tarmac delays as required under Part 259. This order directs Air China to cease and desist from future similar violations of 14 CFR Part 259 and 49 USC § 41712 and assesses the carrier $90,000 in civil penalties.

Air China is a foreign air carrier as defined by 49 USC § 40102(a)(21)2 that operates scheduled service from John F. Kennedy International Airport, a large hub airport, using at least one aircraft having a design capacity of more than 30 passenger seats. Air China operated flight CA982 from JFK to Beijing Capital International Airport on July 15, 2012. Flight CA982, which was scheduled to depart at 4:50 pm, pushed back from the gate at 4:45 pm. However, because of severe thunderstorms at JFK, the departure was delayed. After waiting on the tarmac for approximately an hour and a half, the captain determined that the aircraft needed to be refueled and flight CA982 returned to the gate at 6:40 pm. While at the gate, the aircraft doors remained open until 8:26 pm. Although the carrier states that passengers had the opportunity to deplane during this time, neither the carrier’s flight crew, nor its agents, announced to passengers that they had the opportunity to deplane. The aircraft pushed back from the gate a second time at 8:26 pm. The aircraft experienced another delay of 2 hours and 25 minutes before it took off for Beijing at 10:51 pm.

In response to an investigation by the Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings, Air China admits that it did not announce that passengers had the opportunity to deplane when the aircraft sat at the gate with its doors open while the aircraft was being refueled. The carrier states, however, that passengers were free to deplane during this time and it did not receive any requests from passengers to deplane.

By: Samuel Podberesky

DOT Fines Air China for Violating Tarmac Delay Rules - DOT Press Release

http://www.airchina.com


 

AirTran Airways, Inc.

Order 2013-5-14
OST-2013-0004 - Violations of 14 CFR 399.84(a) and 49 USC § 41712

Issued and Served May 22, 2013

Consent Order

This order concerns violations by AirTran Airways, Inc. of the full fare advertising rule, 14 CFR 399.84(a), and the statutory prohibition against unfair and deceptive practices, 49 USC § 41712. It directs AirTran to cease and desist from future similar violations and assesses the carrier $100,000 in civil penalties.

From September 2012 through December 2012, AirTran conducted an advertising campaign to promote its A+ Rewards Visa by offering, for domestic air transportation, “2 Roundtrip Flights after you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months of opening your account.” The advertisements were sent by e-mail to AirTran customers, were placed online at www.airtran.com, and were located on signs at Atlanta Hatsfield-Jackson International Airport, Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, and Orlando International Airport. In total, 8,534 consumers applied for the A+ Rewards Visa in response to this advertising campaign.

The advertisements used in this campaign failed to note that consumers would have to pay certain government fees to redeem the “2 Roundtrip Flights” after satisfying the minimum spending amount. Specifically, consumers were not informed that the credits could be redeemed for air travel only if the consumer paid the September 11th Security Fee starting at $5.00 per roundtrip. This mandatory government fee was not disclosed anywhere in the advertisements, including in its footnotes.

By not disclosing the government fees applicable to the “2 Roundtrip Flights” offered to A+ Rewards Visa cardholders, AirTran failed to state the entire price to be paid by the consumer to the air carrier as required by 14 CFR 399.84(a). By violating section 399.84(a), AirTran also committed an unfair and deceptive practice in violation of 49 USC § 41712.

By: Samuel Podberesky

http://www.airtran.com/


 

JTB USA, Inc.

Order 2013-5-15
OST-2013-0004 - Violations of 49 USC § 41712 and 14 CFR Part 257

Issued and Served May 23, 2013

Consent Order

This consent order concerns violations by JTB USA, Inc., when it failed to disclose code-share arrangements as required by 49 USC § 41712(c) and 14 CFR Part 257 during telephone airline reservation calls. These failures also constitute separate and distinct violations of 49 USC § 41712(a), the statutory prohibition against unfair and deceptive practices. The order directs JTB USA to cease and desist from future violations of Part 257 and section 41712 and assesses $60,000 in civil penalties.

An investigation by the Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings revealed a significant lack of compliance by JTB USA with section 257.5(b) of the Department’s code-share rule and 49 USC § 41712(c). For a period of time during January and February of 2013, Enforcement Office staff made a number of telephone calls to JTB USA as potential purchasers and inquired about booking a flight. During these calls, the JTB USA reservations agents answering these calls completely failed to make the required disclosure regarding codeshare arrangements for the flights in question. Specifically, when discussing flights marketed by one carrier but operated by another with the callers, JTB USA’s reservation agents only identified the marketing carrier and did not identify the corporate name of the carrier operating the flight or any other name under which the flight was operated, even when prompted by the caller. The telephone calls indicated that JTB USA generally failed to inform consumers booking flights involving code-share arrangements of the identity of the airline that would actually operate the aircraft on which the consumer would be flying.

By: Samuel Podberesky

DOT Fines Ticket Agent JTB USA for Violating Codeshare Disclosure Rules - DOT Press Release

http://www.jtbusa.com/


 

Delta Air Lines, Inc.

Order 2013-6-18
OST-2013-0004 - Consent Orders

Issued and Served June 26, 2013

Consent Order

This order concerns the failure of Delta Air Lines, Inc. to comply with the Department’s oversales rule, 14 CFR Part 250. Violations of Part 250 also constitute unfair and deceptive practices and unfair methods of competition in violation of 49 USC § 41712. The violations by Delta of the Part 250 reporting requirement, 14 CFR 250.10, also violate 49 USC § 41708. Failure to comply with Part 250 also violates 14 CFR Part 259, which requires Delta to adopt and adhere to a Customer Service Plan that addresses, among other things, oversales issues. Violations of Part 250 by Delta also constitute violations of Order 2009-7-7, in which Delta was ordered to cease and desist from violations of the Department’s oversales regulation. This order directs Delta to cease and desist from future violations and assesses Delta a compromise civil penalty of $750,000.

During a visit to Delta’s Atlanta headquarters in March 2012, the Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings found substantial evidence indicating noncompliance with 14 CFR Part 250 by the carrier. Specifically, Enforcement Office staff reviewed a total of 310 oversales-related complaint files received by the carrier during 14-non-consecutive weeks between November 2010 and January 2012. Among these files, the Enforcement Office identified numerous instances in which the complaint file indicated that Delta denied boarding to eligible passengers against their will but failed to advise them of their rights to cash or check DBC payments, failed to furnish a written notice to these passengers as required by section 250.9, or failed to solicit volunteers before denying boarding of passengers involuntarily. Some of the complaints also described incidents in which Delta classified passengers who were involuntarily denied boarding as having volunteered to give up their seats, which, in addition to violating the various sections of Part 250 that protect the rights of passengers who are involuntarily denied boarding, also violates the reporting requirement contained in section 250.10, as well as 49 USC § 41708. The Enforcement Office views the violations uncovered during its compliance review as indicative of a wide-spread practice of noncompliance by Delta that warrants enforcement action and must be rectified.

Also of serious concern is the fact that this is Delta’s second violation of the Department’s oversales rule since 2009. By Order 2009-7-7, issued on July 9, 2009, Delta was found to have violated 14 CFR Part 250 and 49 USC § 41712 by failing to solicit volunteers before involuntarily denying boarding to passengers on oversold flights, failing to furnish the required written notice to bumped passengers, and failing to provide bumped passengers with the appropriate amount and type of DBC. Order 2009-7-7 directs Delta to cease and desist from further violations of the oversales rule and assesses the carrier a civil penalty of $375,000. The violations of Part 250 by Delta found during the Enforcement Office’s 2012 compliance review also constitute violations of the cease and desist provision of Order 2009-7-7.

Furthermore, pursuant to 14 CFR 259.5, Delta adopted a Customer Commitment and made it available on its website. In this Customer Commitment, Delta pledges that, among other things, it will provide information at airports about its policies and procedures for handling situations when all ticketed customers cannot be accommodated on a flight, request volunteers for denied boarding before using any other boarding priority, offer a transportation credit if a passenger voluntarily give up his or her seat, and provide notice explaining Delta’s obligations and the compensation to passengers who are involuntarily denied boarding. Delta’s failure to adhere to these commitments, as described above, not only violates Part 250, but also constitutes violations of 14 CFR 259.5.

By: Samuel Podberesky

DOT Fines Delta for Violating Bumping Compensation Rules - DOT Press Release

http://www.delta.com/


 

jetBlue Airways Corporation

Order 2013-6-20
OST-2013-0004 - Violations of 14 CFR 259.5(b)(4), 399.84(a) and 49 USC § 41712

Issued and Served June 28, 2013

Consent Order

This order concerns violations by jetBlue Airways Corporation of 14 CFR 259.5(b)(4), 14 CFR 399.84(a) and the statutory prohibition against unfair and deceptive practices, 49 USC § 41712. It directs jetBlue to cease and desist from future similar violations and assesses the carrier $60,000 in civil penalties.

To comply with section 259.5, jetBlue adopted a “Passenger Service Plan” and posted the plan on its website. Among other commitments in the plan, jetBlue’s plan stated that following the receipt of a payment from a customer, it would allow a reservation to be canceled within 24 hours of booking without a cancellation fee if the reservation was made one week or more prior to the flight’s departure. However, an investigation conducted by the Enforcement Office found that between January and November 2012, jetBlue imposed its cancellation fees on a limited number of qualified reservations towards which a full refund should have been issued when the reservations were cancelled.

Further, in November 2012, the Enforcement Office reviewed jetBlue’s “Go Pack” Internet promotions and found that the carrier failed to comply with section 399.84(a). The “Go Pack” promotions consisted of seven different packages, each of which included ten booking codes that could each be redeemed for a one-way nonstop flight on a specified route or routes. For each package, jetBlue quoted the price in the format of “total base fare + taxes/fees per flight.” For example, the price for the Pittsburgh package was presented as “$899+ $7 taxes/fees per flight.” For the San Juan package, the price was presented as “$699 + up to $69 taxes/fees per flight.” The advertising did not state the entire price of the package including taxes and fees that had to be paid to redeem all of the booking codes. Price advertising that states a fare without taxes and fees does not state the entire price to be paid by consumers and, therefore, violates section 399.84(a).

Also between October and November 2012, jetBlue advertised its “Election Protection” sweepstakes on the Internet and through several regional news media networks. Specifically, jetBlue invited consumers to enter the sweepstakes by voting for a presidential candidate, and stated that each winner of the sweepstakes would receive a “free ticket” or a “free flight.” Notwithstanding the use of the term “free,” jetBlue’s “Official Rules” stated that “[p]assenger is solely responsible for all fees, taxes, surcharges, and service charges for all travel booked using a Travel Certificate” and that the government taxes and fees for each way international travel could be up to $329. Although consumers who won the prizes were not charged airfare, they did have to pay government taxes and fees in order to book tickets. jetBlue’s advertisements of “free” airfares when the fares were not indeed “free” to consumers violated section 399.84(a). jetBlue’s failure to comply with sections 259.5(b)(4) and 399.84(a) as described above also constitute unfair and deceptive practices in violation of 49 USC § 41712.

By: Samuel Podberesky

http://www.jetblue.com/


 

Korean Air Lines Co., Ltd.

Order 2013-7-5
OST-2013-0004 - Violations of Articles 17 and 19 of the Montreal Convention and 49 USC § 41712

Issued and Served July 5, 2013

Consent Order

This consent order concerns violations by Korean Air Lines Co., Ltd. of Articles 17 and 19 of the Montreal Convention and the statutory prohibition against unfair and deceptive trade practices 49 USC § 41712, in connection with monetary claims resulting from mishandled checked baggage on Korean Air flights to and from the United States. It directs Korean Air to cease and desist from future similar violations of Articles 17 and 19 and section 41712 and assesses the carrier a compromise civil penalty of $60,000.

Based on a consumer complaint, the Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings investigated Korean Air’s policies and practices in connection with its handling of monetary claims for mishandled checked baggage on flights to and from the United States. A review of consumer baggage claims received by Korean Air disclosed that in some instances, the carrier limited reimbursement for delayed baggage to between $50 and $150, based on the passenger’s class of service, regardless of the amount of the expenses claimed, the length of the delay, or how many passengers were impacted by the delay. Additionally, we discovered that in a few instances, Korean Air improperly disclaimed liability for the loss of items that were included in the passengers’ checked baggage and accepted by Korean Air.

Korean Air’s actions effectively limited its liability for damage occasioned by the delay of checked baggage and the loss of items in checked baggage to an amount far less than the 1131 SDRs for each passenger in violation of Articles 17 and 19 of the Montreal Convention and 49 USC § 41712.

By: Samuel Podberesky

https://www.koreanair.com


 

British Airways Plc

Order 2013-7-11
OST-2013-0004 - Violations of 49 USC § 41712

Issued and Served July 12, 2013

Consent Order

This consent order concerns inaccurate information provided by British Airways Plc to consumers regarding the availability of discounted fees for baggage on its Internet website in violation of 49 USC § 41712. The order directs British Airways to cease and desist from future similar violations of section 41712, and assesses the carrier a compromise civil penalty of $40,000.

In May 2012, in response to a consumer complaint, the Department’s Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings conducted an investigation of British Airways’ US website, www.britishairways.com/us, which offered discounted rates for consumers that pay the fee for baggage in advance. The Enforcement Office found that certain consumers that made their reservations through third-party booking agents were unable to pay at the discounted rate for these baggage fees on British Airways’ website; instead, they received a “system non-responding” message, which provided no other instructions or explanations except a prompt to try again later. British Airways failed to provide notice that its discounted rates may not be available to all consumers or to implement a system making the discounted rates available to all consumers. As such, a number of consumers who attempted to pay baggage fees at the discounted rates that the carrier stated were available online were unable to do so and as a result were forced to pay the higher rates applicable to purchases made at airport ticket counters. British Airways’ failure to provide accurate information regarding the availability of its discounted baggage fees violates 49 USC § 41712.

By: Samuel Podberesky

http://www.britishairways.com/



PrimeSport, Inc.

Order 2013-7-15
OST-2013-0004 - Violations of 49 USC §§ 41101 and 41712 and 14 CFR Part 380

Issued and Served July 18, 2013

Consent Order

This consent order concerns violations of certain consumer protection provisions of the Department’s Public Charter regulations by PrimeSport, Inc. PrimeSport failed to apply for and receive approval from the Department prior to advertising and selling Public Charter flights, in violation of 14 CFR Part 380. Advertising and selling flights without an approved Public Charter prospectus constitutes engaging in air transportation as an indirect air carrier without Department authority in violation of 49 USC § 41101. These activities also constitute unfair and deceptive practices and unfair methods of competition in violation of 49 USC § 41712 and 14 CFR 380.27. This order directs PrimeSport to cease and desist from future violations and assesses a compromise civil penalty of $60,000.

PrimeSport is a Georgia-based corporation that provides tickets and tour packages to special events. Prior to applying for and receiving Public Charter authority from the Department, PrimeSport advertised roundtrip charter air transportation to the Pittsburgh Steelers-Minnesota Vikings NFL football game in London, which is scheduled to take place on September 30, 2013. PrimeSport advertised these air charter packages on its website, www.primesport.com. PrimeSport had not received Public Charter authority from the Department to hold out or conduct these flights prior to publishing these solicitations. Furthermore, PrimeSport sold air charter packages and received money from consumers prior to obtaining Public Charter authority. PrimeSport therefore violated 14 CFR 380.25(a). PrimeSport, by holding out and selling Public Charter service before filing and receiving Public Charter authority in violation of 14 CFR Part 380, also violated 49 USC § 41101, which prohibits a company or person from engaging in air transportation without proper economic authority. These violations also constitute an unfair and deceptive practice and unfair methods of competition in violation of 49 USC § 41712 and 14 CFR 380.27.

By: Samuel Podberesky


Order 2013-7-15
OST-2013-0004 - Violations of 49 USC §§ 41101 and 41712 and 14 CFR Part 380

Issued and Served July 18, 2013 | Corrected July 25, 2013

Consent Order - Errata

This consent order concerns violations of certain consumer protection provisions of the Department’s Public Charter regulations by PrimeSport, Inc. PrimeSport failed to apply for and receive approval from the Department prior to advertising and selling Public Charter flights, in violation of 14 CFR Part 380. Advertising and selling flights without an approved Public Charter prospectus constitutes engaging in air transportation as an indirect air carrier without Department authority in violation of 49 USC § 41101. These activities also constitute unfair and deceptive practices and unfair methods of competition in violation of 49 USC § 41712 and 14 CFR 380.27. This order directs PrimeSport to cease and desist from future violations and assesses a compromise civil penalty of $60,000.

PrimeSport is a Georgia-based corporation that provides tickets and tour packages to special events. Prior to applying for and receiving Public Charter authority from the Department, PrimeSport advertised roundtrip charter air transportation to the Pittsburgh Steelers-Minnesota Vikings NFL football game in London, which is scheduled to take place on September 30, 2013. PrimeSport advertised these air charter packages on its website, www.primesport.com. PrimeSport had not received Public Charter authority from the Department to hold out or conduct these flights prior to publishing these solicitations. Furthermore, PrimeSport sold air charter packages and received money from consumers prior to obtaining Public Charter authority. PrimeSport therefore violated 14 CFR 380.25(a). PrimeSport, by holding out and selling Public Charter service before filing and receiving Public Charter authority in violation of 14 CFR Part 380, also violated 49 USC § 41101, which prohibits a company or person from engaging in air transportation without proper economic authority. These violations also constitute an unfair and deceptive practice and unfair methods of competition in violation of 49 USC § 41712 and 14 CFR 380.27.

By: Samuel Podberesky



American Eagle Airlines, Inc.

Order 2013-7-18
OST-2013-0004 - Violations of 14 CFR Part 259 and 49 USC § 41712

Issued and Served July 23, 2013

Consent Order

This consent order concerns violations by American Eagle Airlines, Inc. of 14 CFR Part 259 and 49 USC § 41712. Specifically, the carrier failed to adhere to the assurance in its contingency plan for lengthy tarmac delays that the carrier would not allow an aircraft to remain on the tarmac for more than three hours for domestic flights before providing passengers an opportunity to deplane. This order directs American Eagle to cease and desist from future similar violations of 14 CFR Part 259 and 49 USC § 41712 and assesses the carrier $200,000 in civil penalties.

American Eagle is an air carrier as defined by 49 USC § 40102(a)(2)3 that operates scheduled service at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, a large hub airport, and that uses at least one aircraft having a design capacity of more than 30 passenger seats. American Eagle has adopted a contingency plan for lengthy tarmac delays covering its scheduled passenger operations at DFW. An investigation by the Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings revealed that on December 25, 2012, ten American Eagle flights, eight inbound and two outbound, experienced lengthy tarmac delays at DFW.

These delays occurred during and after an unexpectedly severe winter weather event in the Dallas-Fort Worth area on December 25, 2012. Although light snow fall, with no ice, had been predicted for DFW since the early morning hours that day, ice pellets fell for fifteen minutes beginning at 1:22 p.m. This ice fall was followed by heavy snow that lasted until approximately 6:00 p.m. In anticipation of the inclement weather American Eagle canceled many flights and once it became apparent that the weather was worse than expected, American Eagle canceled or diverted several hundred flights. Complicating the challenging weather situation on the ground at DFW was the fact that several of American Eagle’s deicing trucks unexpectedly failed, resulting in very reduced deicing capacity. At 2:23 p.m., American Eagle’s System Operations Control (SOC) issued a ground stop. The arriving flights, not affected by the ground stop, combined with the departing flights that had to return to the gate because of extended deicing times, resulted in all of American Eagle’s gates being occupied. In response, American Eagle contacted DFW to seek additional space to park its inbound flights and to request assistance with bussing. The carrier also implemented a towing operation to remove aircraft from American Eagle gates and initiated a remote deplaning operation.

Of the ten flights that experienced lengthy tarmac delays, seven domestic flights and one international flight fell within the two aforementioned exceptions to the rule and are not subject to this order. On the other hand, the Enforcement Office has determined that American Eagle violated the Department’s tarmac delay rule in connection with the two remaining flights that experienced lengthy tarmac delays. Those incidents, which are detailed below, are the subject of this order.

Flight 2720, from Sioux Falls Regional Airport to DFW, landed at DFW at 2:48 p.m., shortly after the ground stop was instituted at 2:23 p.m. Flight 2720 was not assigned a gate until 5:30 p.m., and no attempt to move the aircraft already located on that gate was made until 5:40 p.m., giving American Eagle just eight minutes to remove one aircraft and park another to avoid violating the applicable 3-hour tarmac delay limit during winter weather conditions. Because the wheels of the aircraft parked at the gate were frozen, the gate was not made available for flight 2720 to park until 6:20 p.m. The aircraft ultimately arrived at the gate at 6:36 p.m., when passengers deplaned. As a result, 42 passengers remained on board the aircraft for 3 hours and 48 minutes before being given an opportunity to deplane.

Flight 3361, from Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport to DFW, landed at DFW at 3:29 p.m. The aircraft was not dispatched to a hardstand until 6:00 p.m., 2 hours and 31 minutes into the tarmac delay. The aircraft did not park at that hardstand until 7:00 p.m., already in violation of the tarmac delay rule. Passengers ultimately deplaned at 8:01 p.m. As a result, 37 passengers remained on board the aircraft for 4 hours and 32 minutes before being given an opportunity to deplane.

In summary, the Enforcement Office found that American Eagle failed to provide an opportunity to deplane before the tarmac delay for two domestic flights, flights 2720 and 3361, exceeded three hours. Those flights carried 79 passengers. American Eagle’s failure to adhere to the terms of its contingency plan in this regard violated 14 CFR 259.4(b)(1) and 49 U.S.C. § 41712.

By: Samuel Podberesky

American Eagle Fined $200,000 for Lengthy Christmas 2012 Tarmac Delays - DOT Press Release

http://www.aa.com/


 

Southwest Airlines Co.

Order 2013-7-20
OST-2013-0004 - Violations of 14 CFR 399.84(a) and 49 USC § 41712

Issued and Served July 30, 2013

Consent Order

This order concerns violations by Southwest Airlines Co. of the full-fare advertising rule, 14 CFR 399.84(a), and the statutory prohibition against unfair and deceptive practices, 49 USC § 41712. It directs Southwest to cease and desist from future similar violations and assesses the carrier $200,000 in civil penalties.

In response to a consumer complaint, the Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings investigated Southwest’s “The Luv a Fare Sale,” which the carrier promoted in advertisements emailed to consumers on January 11, 2013. The email advertised one-way, nonstop fares “for $100 or less” for travel on February 14, 2013. However, the Enforcement Office’s investigation revealed that Southwest failed to have a reasonable number of seats available in a number of city-pair markets that were included in the fare sale. For example, in the Atlanta–Las Vegas market only two percent of seats were made available at the sale fare and in the Minneapolis–Phoenix market only one percent of the seats were available.

Further, on January 30, 2013, Southwest published a fare advertisement through its “DING!” application for $66 one-way fares from Dallas Love Field to Branson Airport in Missouri between March 1, 2013, and March 21, 2013. However, there were no seats available at the sale fare on any day during the sale period. Specifically, Southwest’s service between DAL and BKG did not commence until March 9, 2013, and there were no fares available for $66 from March 9 through March 21.

By advertising fares for which a reasonable number of seats were not available and advertising fares that were not available at all, Southwest violated 14 CFR 399.84(a) and engaged in unfair and deceptive practices in violation of 49 USC § 41712.

By: Samuel Podberesky

http://www.southwest.com/

DOT Fines Southwest for Violating Price Advertising - DOT Press Releas


 

Bloomspot, Inc.

Order 2013-7-27
OST-2013-0004 - Violations of 49 USC § 41712 and 14 CFR 399.84

Issued and Served July 31, 2013

Consent Order

This consent order concerns Internet advertisements and e-mail solicitations by Bloomspot, Inc. that violate the advertising requirements specified in 14 CFR 399.84(a), as well as 49 USC § 41712, which prohibits unfair and deceptive practices. It directs Bloomspot to cease and desist from future violations of section 399.84 and section 41712, and assesses the ticket agent a compromise civil penalty of $20,000.

For a period of time in late 2012, on its website and by email, Bloomspot promoted air-inclusive tour packages that failed to meet the requirements of 14 CFR 399.84(a). For example, Bloomspot sent an e-mail to its subscribers promoting a Highlights of Egypt tour with a stated price of “$2,877 for 7-day Highlights of Egypt tour ($4,795 value).” Clicking on the “Read more” and “SEE OFFER” links in the e-mail directed consumers to a “Primary Offer” landing page that stated: “$2,877* for 7-day Highlights of Egypt tour ($4,795 value)”. On the same webpage under the heading “The Details” an additional disclosure noted that the “Rate is per person but based on double-occupancy: $450 single-occupancy fee for solo travelers will be collected upon booking.”

The Highlights of Egypt tour promoted in an e-mail to subscribers also appeared on a webpage on the Bloomspot website. Like the e-mail advertisement, there was no disclosure of the double occupancy requirement on the Bloomspot webpage promoting the Highlights of Egypt tour. Consumers who viewed the promotion on the Bloomspot webpage had to click an arrow to be directed to the “Primary Offer” landing page that disclosed the double occupancy requirement and single-occupancy fee. The failure to adequately disclose the double occupancy requirement (1) in email solicitations and (2) on the first webpage advertising the air-inclusive tour package violates section 399.84(a) and constitutes an unfair and deceptive practice in violation of 49 USC § 41712.

By: Samuel Podberesky

https://www.bloomspot.com/


 

Frontier Airlines, Inc.

Order 2013-7-28
OST-2013-0004 - Violations of 14 CFR 399.84(a) and 49 USC § 41712

Issued and Served August 1, 2013

Consent Order

This order concerns violations by Frontier Airlines, Inc. of the full-fare advertising rule, 14 CFR 399.84(a), and the statutory prohibition against unfair and deceptive practices, 49 USC § 41712. It directs Frontier to cease and desist from future similar violations and assesses the carrier $80,000 in civil penalties.

From July 2012 through March 2013, Frontier conducted an advertising campaign by mail and e-mail to Frontier customers, online at www.flyfrontier.com, onboard Frontier aircraft, and at airports to promote its World MasterCard. Some of the advertisements included the following statement: “Get up to 45,000 miles with qualifying transactions. That’s enough for a roundtrip award ticket!”

Those advertisements with the language above failed to note that consumers would have to pay certain taxes and fees to redeem the “roundtrip award ticket.” Specifically, consumers were not informed that the 45,000 miles could be redeemed for domestic air travel only if the consumer paid the September 11th Security Fee of up to $5.00 each way. In addition, consumers were not informed that credits redeemed for international air travel were also subject to the US Customs User Fee of $5.50, the US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Fee of $5.00, the US Immigration User Fee of $7.00, and applicable taxes imposed by foreign governments. These mandatory charges were not disclosed anywhere in the advertisements described above, including in the footnotes.

Frontier has advised the Department that it believes that approximately 25 percent of the World MasterCard accounts opened between July 1, 2012, and March 20, 2013, were opened via the web page containing the advertisements that did not disclose the taxes and fees.

By not disclosing the taxes and fees applicable to the “roundtrip award ticket” offered to new Frontier World MasterCard cardholders, Frontier failed to state the entire price to be paid by the consumer to the air carrier as required by 14 CFR 399.84(a). By violating section 399.84(a), Frontier also committed an unfair and deceptive practice in violation of 49 USC § 41712.

By: Samuel Podberesky

http://www.flyfrontier.com/


 

Etihad Airways, Inc.

Order 2013-8-7
OST-2013-0004 - Violations of 49 USC § 41708 and 14 CFR Part 217

Issued and Served August 20, 2013

Consent Order

This consent order concerns reporting delinquencies by Etihad Airways, Inc. that constitute violations of 49 USC § 41708 and the Department's foreign air carrier reporting requirements. This order directs Etihad to cease and desist from future violations, and assesses the carrier a compromise civil penalty of $20,000.

Section 41708 of the United States Code inter alia authorizes the Secretary of Transportation to require air carriers and foreign air carriers to submit reports to the Department. Pursuant to section 41708, 14 CFR Part 217 designates the categories of statistical data to be collected from foreign air carriers and prescribes the manner in which these data are to be submitted to the Department. The Department uses the data for various important purposes, including analyzing the effects of air transportation industry policy initiatives, allocating airport development funds, forecasting traffic, and developing airport and airway traffic policy. A foreign air carrier's failure to file its reports, therefore, prevents the Department from making fully informed decisions. Failure to file reports when they are due constitutes a violation of both 49 USC § 41708 and 14 CFR Part 217.

Etihad failed to submit, in a timely manner, any of its required T-100(f) reports from May 2012 through October 2012. Etihad's failure to file the required reports in a timely manner, violates 49 USC § 41708 and 14 CFR Part 217, and subjects the carrier to the civil penalty provisions of 49 USC § 46301.

By: Samuel Podberesky

http://www.etihad.com/


 

Hipmunk, Inc.

Order 2013-8-8
OST-2013-0004 - Violations of 14 CFR 257.5(d) and 399.85(b) and 49 USC § 41712

Issued and Served August 20, 2013

Consent Order

This order concerns violations by Hipmunk, Inc. of 14 CFR 257.5(d) and 399.85(b) and the statutory prohibition against unfair and deceptive practices and unfair methods of competition, 49 USC § 41712. It directs Hipmunk to cease and desist from future similar violations and assesses the ticket agent $30,000 in civil penalties.

An investigation by the Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings revealed a lack of compliance by Hipmunk with 14 CFR 257.5(d) and 49 USC § 41712(c). On its Internet website, www.hipmunk.com, Hipmunk failed to properly disclose the existence of codesharing arrangements when advertising codeshare flights operated by a regional air carrier on behalf of a major air carrier. Specifically, Hipmunk did not display the corporate names of the transporting carriers and any other names under which those flights were held out to the public on its flight itinerary pages. As a result, consumers were unable to learn, at an early stage of the booking process, the identity of the airline that would actually operate the aircraft on which they would be flying. By failing to properly disclose such codeshare arrangements, Hipmunk violated 14 CFR 257.5(d) and 49 USC § 41712.

The investigation also revealed a lack of compliance by Hipmunk with section 399.85(b). Specifically, on the first screen in which a fare quotation for a specific itinerary is offered to consumers, Hipmunk failed to clearly and prominently disclose that additional fees for baggage might apply and where consumers could view the applicable baggage fees. By failing to properly disclose baggage fee information, Hipmunk violated 14 CFR 399.85(b) and 49 USC § 41712.

By: Samuel Podberesky

http://www.hipmunk.com


 

Aerovias del Continente Americano S.A.

Order 2013-8-9
OST-2013-0004 - Violations of 14 CFR Parts 244 and 259 and 49 USC 41708 and 41712

Issued and Served August 21, 2013

Consent Order

This consent order concerns violations by Aerovías del Continente Americano S.A. of 14 CFR Parts 244 and 259 and 49 USC §§ 41708 and 41712. Specifically, the carrier failed to adhere to the assurance in its contingency plan for lengthy tarmac delays that the carrier would not permit an international flight to remain on the tarmac for more than four hours without providing passengers an opportunity to deplane. Moreover, Avianca failed to file accurately the required on-time performance information for a lengthy tarmac delay with the Department of Transportation. This order directs Avianca to cease and desist from future similar violations of 14 CFR Parts 244 and 259 and 49 USC §§ 41708 and 41712 and assesses the carrier $100,000 in civil penalties.

An investigation by the Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings revealed that on March 24, 2013, 121 passengers were delayed on the tarmac for five hours and twenty minutes in violation of 14 CFR 259.4(b)(2), when Avianca flight 28, traveling from El Dorado International Airport in Bogotá, Colombia, to MCO, diverted to MIA.

Avianca flight 28 was scheduled to arrive at MCO at 3:06 pm. However, due to weather and the limited amount of fuel remaining onboard the aircraft, it was unable to land at MCO as planned and diverted to MIA, landing at 3:29 pm. After landing at MIA, flight 28 was directed to a gate, where the aircraft was refueled and where it stayed for approximately one hour. According to Avianca, although the door of the aircraft was open during refueling, allowing passengers to deplane was not necessary due to Avianca’s having no knowledge of additional delays at the time and due to the time, approximately thirty minutes, it would take to establish the sterile area required when deplaning an international flight. Avianca never contacted CBP at MIA to inquire about deplaning passengers.

After leaving the terminal, flight 28 spent approximately four more hours at MIA, including time in a waiting area and on a taxiway. Avianca made no attempts during this time to deplane passengers or to solicit assistance from the airport operator in deplaning. At 7:30 pm, the captain of flight 28 contacted Avianca operations at MIA to discuss deplaning, whereupon a decision was made not to deplane passengers. Avianca states that the flight would have been cancelled if it returned to the terminal for deplaning due to the expiration of the crew’s duty time. Flight 28 departed from MIA at 8:49 pm, landed at MCO at 9:34 pm, and arrived at its gate at 9:49 pm.

Additionally, Avianca misreported information regarding flight 28 in the BTS Form 244 “Tarmac Delay Report” it filed with the Office of Airline Information. Avianca’s initial report to the Department incorrectly stated the arrival and departure times at MIA, indicating a tarmac delay of five hours and one minute, nineteen minutes shorter than the actual delay. According to Avianca, the error was caused by the data-recording system on flight 28 not properly transmitting data. Avianca self-disclosed this discrepancy to the Department.

In summary, the Enforcement Office found that Avianca made no attempt to adhere to the terms of its contingency plan or to provide passengers an opportunity to deplane before the tarmac delay exceeded four hours. Avianca also failed to report the tarmac delay accurately in its initial report to the Department. Avianca’s failures violated 14 CFR 244.3 and 259.4 and 49 USC §§ 41708 and 41712. Although the Department finds that Avianca violated 14 CFR 244.3 and 49 USC § 41708, the Department has based the compromise civil penalty assessed in this order solely on violations of 14 CFR 259.4 and 49 USC § 41712 because the carrier’s erroneous report was a result of equipment failure and because the carrier self-reported the violation.

By: Samuel Podberesky

http://www.avianca.com/


 

AAA Mid-Atlantic, Inc.

Order 2013-8-24
OST-2013-0004 - Violations of 49 USC § 41712(a) and 14 CFR Part 257

Issued and Served August 29, 2013

Consent Order

This consent order concerns violations by the AAA Mid-Atlantic Inc. when it failed to disclose code-share arrangements as required by 49 USC§ 41712(c) and 14 CFR Part 257 during telephone airline reservation calls. These failures also constitute separate and distinct violations of 49 USC § 41712(a), the statutory prohibition against unfair and deceptive practices. The order directs AAA Mid-Atlantic to cease and desist from future violations of Part 257 and section 41712, and assesses $40,000 in civil penalties.

An investigation by the Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings revealed a significant lack of compliance by AAA Mid-Atlantic with section 257.5(b) of the Department’s codeshare rule and section 41712(c). For a period of time during January and February of 2013, Enforcement Office staff made a number of telephone calls to AAA Mid-Atlantic as potential purchasers and inquired about booking a flight. During these calls, the AAA Mid-Atlantic reservations agents answering the calls failed to make the required disclosure regarding code-share arrangements for the flights in question. Specifically, when discussing flights marketed by one carrier but operated by another with the callers, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s reservation agents only identified the marketing carrier and did not identify the corporate name of the carrier operating the flight or any other name under which the flight is operated, even when prompted by the caller.

As interpreted by the Department, section 257.5(b) and 49 USC § 41712(c) require that oral code-share disclosures be provided whenever an agent first mentions a codeshare flight in response to a specific consumer inquiry, including inquiries that may involve only a request for information. The telephone calls indicated that AAA Mid-Atlantic generally failed to inform consumers booking flights involving code-share arrangements of the identity of the airline that would actually operate the aircraft on which the consumer would be flying.

By: Samuel Podberesky

DOT Fines Ticket Agents for Codeshare Disclosure Violations - DOT Press Release

http://midatlantic.aaa.com



FC USA, Inc. d/b/a Liberty Travel

Order 2013-8-25
OST-2013-0004 - Violations of 49 USC § 41712 and 14 CFR Part 257

Issued and Served August 29, 2013

Consent Order

This consent order concerns violations by FC USA, Inc. d/b/a Liberty Travel when it failed to disclose codeshare arrangements as required by 49 USC § 41712(c) and 14 CFR Part 257 during telephone airline reservation calls. These failures also constitute separate and distinct violations of 49 USC § 41712(a), the statutory prohibition against unfair and deceptive practices. The order directs Liberty to cease and desist from future violations of Part 257 and section 41712, and assesses $100,000 in civil penalties.

An investigation by the Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings) revealed a lack of compliance by Liberty with section 257.5(b) of the Department’s codeshare rule and 49 USC § 41712(c). For a period of time during January and February of 2013, Enforcement Office staff made a number of telephone calls to Liberty as potential purchasers and inquired about booking a flight. During these calls, the Liberty reservations agents answering the calls failed to make the required disclosure regarding codeshare arrangements for the flights in question. Specifically, when discussing flights marketed by one carrier but operated by another with the callers, Liberty’s reservation agents only identified the marketing carrier and did not identify the corporate name of the carrier operating the flight or any other name under which the flight was operated, even when prompted by the caller.

As interpreted by the Department, section 257.5(b) and 49 USC § 41712(c) require that oral code-share disclosures be provided whenever an agent first mentions a codeshare flight in response to a specific consumer inquiry, including inquiries that may involve only a request for information. The telephone calls indicated that Liberty generally failed to inform consumers booking flights involving codeshare arrangements of the identity of the airline that would actually operate the aircraft on which the consumer would be flying.

By: Samuel Podberesky

Prior Liberty Travel Consent Orders

DOT Fines Ticket Agents for Codeshare Disclosure Violations - DOT Press Release

http://www.libertytravel.com/


 

STA Travel, Inc.

Order 2013-8-26
OST-2013-0004 - Violations of 49 USC § 41712 and 14 CFR Part 257

Issued and Served August 29, 2013

Consent Order

This consent order concerns violations by STA Travel, Inc. when it failed to disclose codeshare arrangements as required by 49 USC § 41712(c) and 14 CFR Part 257 during telephone airline reservation calls. These failures also constitute separate and distinct violations of 49 USC § 41712(a), the statutory prohibition against unfair and deceptive practices. The order directs STA to cease and desist from future violations of Part 257 and section 41712, and assesses $40,000 in civil penalties.

An investigation by the Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings revealed a lack of compliance by STA with section 257.5(b) of the Department’s code-share rule and 49 USC § 41712(c). For a period of time during January and February of 2013, Enforcement Office staff made a number of telephone calls to STA as potential purchasers and inquired about booking a flight. During these calls, the STA reservations agents answering the calls failed to make the required disclosure regarding codeshare arrangements for the flights in question. Specifically, when discussing flights marketed by one carrier but operated by another with the callers, STA’s reservation agents only identified the marketing carrier and did not identify the corporate name of the carrier operating the flight or any other name under which the flight was operated, even when prompted by the caller.

The Department interprets Section 257.5(b) and 49 USC § 41712(c) to require that oral code-share disclosures be provided whenever an agent first mentions a codeshare flight in response to a specific consumer inquiry, including inquiries that may involve only a request for information. The telephone calls indicated that STA generally failed to inform consumers booking flights involving codeshare arrangements of the identity of the airline that would actually operate the aircraft on which the consumer would be flying.

By: Samuel Podberesky

DOT Fines Ticket Agents for Codeshare Disclosure Violations - DOT Press Release

http://www.statravel.com


 

Raj Travel, Incorporated

Order 2013-9-1
OST-2013-0004 - Violations of 14 CFR 399.84(a) and 399.85(b) and 49 USC § 41712

Issued and Served September 3, 2013

Consent Order

This order concerns violations by Raj Travel, Incorporated of 14 CFR 399.84(a), which requires that all airfare and air tour prices advertised include all government-imposed taxes and fees and all airline and ticket agent-imposed fees, 14 CFR 399.85(b), which requires baggage fee disclosures, and the statutory prohibition against unfair and deceptive practices and unfair methods of competition, 49 USC § 41712. It directs Raj Travel, a ticket agent,1 to cease and desist from future similar violations of the Department’s full-fare advertising rule 14 CFR 399.84(a), and baggage fee disclosure requirement of 14 CFR 399.85(b) and assesses the company $10,000 in civil penalties.

From at least March 1, 2012, Raj Travel’s website failed to meet the requirements of 14 CFR 399.84(a) and 399.85(b). Specifically, Raj Travel’s primary web page listed numerous fares that did not include taxes and fees, but instead were followed immediately by the statement “+ Taxes” and modified by a second statement at the bottom of the page directing customers to “Call for Details.” There was no way for the consumer to know the full fare without calling. Furthermore, the web page did not contain language disclosing, via a link or any other means, the possibility of additional baggage fees. Failing to include the additional taxes and fees in the fare quoted on the primary web page and failing to provide clear and prominent notice regarding additional baggage fees violates 14 CFR 399.84(a) and 399.85(b), and 49 USC § 41712.

Further, since March 15, 2012, Raj Travel published advertisements in emails and on social media sent to potential customers via the internet that also failed to state the entire price to be paid by the consumer. The emails and social media advertisements stated fare amounts, but supplemented the statement “+Taxes” with the statement “*** For more details please contact our Agents ***”. As such, the advertisements also violated sections 399.84(a) and 399.85(b), and section 41712.

By: Samuel Podberesky

http://www.rajtravel.net


 

Valley National Bank

Order 2013-9-2
OST-2013-0004 - Violations of 14 CFR Part 380 and 49 USC § 41712

Issued and Served September 4, 2013

Consent Order

This order concerns violations of 14 CFR Part 380, the Department’s rule on public charters, by Valley National Bank in its role as a depository (escrow) bank. In 2011 and 2012, Valley National maintained escrow accounts for two charter operators: Southern Sky Air & Tours d/b/a Myrtle Beach Direct Air & Tours and EZjet GT, Inc. d/b/a EZjet Air Services. In its management of both depository accounts, Valley allowed a number of disbursements contrary to the requirements of section 380.34. The bank’s conduct also constituted an unfair and deceptive practice in violation of 49 USC § 41712. This order directs Valley National to cease and desist from similar future violations and assesses a civil penalty of $125,000.

Direct Air provided service primarily between points in the Northeast and Midwest, on the one hand, and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and destinations in Florida, on the other. It abruptly ceased operations on March 13, 2012, and shortly thereafter entered liquidation bankruptcy. EZjet, a charter operator which provided charters between New York and Georgetown, Guyana, ceased service in November 2012. Pursuant to the depository agreements attached to prospectuses filed with the Department by Direct Air and EZjet, Valley National agreed to act as depository bank for the two companies and comply with Part 380 for their respective charter programs.

Under 14 CFR 380.34(b)(2), the depository bank is not to disburse funds to the charter operator prior to two days after the completion of each charter flight and then only upon certification by the direct air carrier of the completion date. In addition, section 380.34(b)(2) specifies that the bank must not pay third party vendors (in Valley’s case, a fuel contractor) until:(a) the charter price has been paid in full to the direct air carrier; (b) the bank has received invoices from the respective vendors; and (c) the tour operator has certified that the services were in fact rendered.

In some instances, Valley National transferred funds to the operating account of a charter operator, EZjet, from that program’s escrow account without receiving verification from the direct air carrier involved that the flight had been completed. In addition, there were two flight certifications missing from another charter operator, Direct Air. In the case of EZjet, payments to the tour operator without appropriate certification from the operating carriers occurred over several months prior to its cessation of operations.

In addition, in the case of Direct Air, the bank transferred funds to the account of ChemOil, the fuel supplier for many of the charter operator’s flights, based solely on instructions from the charter operator. These transfers, contrary to the requirements of section 380.34(b)(2), were made without the direct air carriers being paid in full, without documentation identifying fuel costs with specific flights, and without invoices from ChemOil. These unauthorized transfers continued over the period from late 2011 to the carrier’s cessation of service.

By: Samuel Podberesky

https://www.valleynationalbank.com


 

Virgin America, Inc.

Order 2013-9-7
OST-2013-0004 - Violations of 49 USC § 41705 and 14 CFR Part 382

Issued and Served September 10, 2013

Consent Order

This order concerns violations by Virgin America Inc. of 14 CFR Part 382, the Department of Transportation’s regulation implementing the Air Carrier Access Act 49 USC § 41705, with respect to the requirement that the carrier ensure that its in-flight safety videos are accessible to persons with hearing impairments by using open captioning or an inset for a sign language interpreter. Violations of Part 382 also violate the ACAA. This order directs Virgin America to cease and desist from future violations of Part 382 and the ACAA and assesses the carrier $150,000 in civil penalties.

As an air carrier providing scheduled passenger air transportation, Virgin America is subject to the requirements of ACAA and Part 382. In August 2007, Virgin America launched its scheduled operations using aircraft that are equipped with a personal in-flight entertainment system using customized seat back touch screens. On October 9, 2007, Virgin America began to use this in-flight entertainment system to present a safety briefing video before the take-off of each flight. The video presentation provides details of the safety features of the aircraft through animation and oral narratives, which is not accompanied by open captioning or an inset for sign language interpreter and, therefore, is not accessible to passengers with hearing impairments. The Enforcement Office has determined that the content and format of the video is such that inserting open captioning with readable font size would not interfere with the video as to render it ineffective. As such, Virgin America’s safety briefing video displays violated section 382.47(b) (1990 version of rule) between October 9, 2007 and May 12, 2009. It also violated section 382.69(c) (2008 version of rule) between May 13, 2009, and November 9, 2009.

By: Samuel Podberesky

DOT Fines Virgin Ameriac for Failing to Make In-Flight Safety Videos Accessible to Passengers with Hearing Impairments - DOT Press Release

http://www.virginamerica.com


 

Alpha Media Group, LLC d/b/a AlphaFlightGuru

Order 2013-9-19
OST-2013-0004 - Violations of 49 USC § 41712 and 14 CFR 399.84(a)

Issued and Served September 30, 2013

Consent Order

This consent order concerns Internet advertisements by Alpha Media Group, LLC d/b/a AlphaFlightGuru that failed to comply with the US Department of Transportation’s full-fare advertising rule, 14 CFR 399.84(a), and constituted an unfair and deceptive practice prohibited by 49 USC § 41712. It directs AlphaFlightGuru to cease and desist from further similar violations of section 399.84(a) and section 41712 and assesses AlphaFlightGuru a civil penalty of $60,000.

An investigation by the Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings found that AlphaFlightGuru advertised airfares without stating the entire price to be paid by the consumer. Specifically, AlphaFlightGuru’s website displayed price ranges for air travel that, instead of showing the entire price to be paid by the consumer, included language in a disclaimer stating that taxes and fees were not included. By failing to include all taxes and fees in the fares advertised, AlphaFlightGuru violated 14 CFR 399.84(a) and engaged in an unfair and deceptive practice in violation of 49 USC § 41712.

By: Samuel Podberesky

http://alphaflightguru.com/


 

Carlson Wagonlit Travel, Inc.

Order 2013-10-9
OST-2013-0004 - Violations of 49 USC § 41712(a) and 14 CFR Part 257

Issued and Served October 22, 2013

Consent Order

This consent order concerns violations by Carlson Wagonlit Travel, Inc. when it failed to disclose code-share arrangements as required by 49 USC § 41712(c) and 14 CFR Part 257 during telephone airline reservation calls. These failures also constitute separate and distinct violations of 49 USC § 41712(a), the statutory prohibition against unfair and deceptive practices. The order directs Carlson to cease and desist from future violations of Part 257 and section 41712, and assesses $125,000 in civil penalties.

An investigation by the Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings revealed a lack of compliance by Carlson with section 257.5(b) of the Department’s code-share rule and section 41712(c). For a period of time during January and February of 2013, Enforcement Office staff made a number of telephone calls to Carlson as potential purchasers and inquired about booking a flight. During these calls, the Carlson reservations agents answering the calls failed to make the required disclosure regarding codeshare arrangements for the flights in question. Specifically, when discussing flights marketed by one carrier but operated by another with the callers, Carlson’s reservation agents only identified the marketing carrier and did not identify the corporate name of the carrier operating the flight or any other name under which the flight is operated.

By: Samuel Podberesky

DOT Fines Ticket Agents for Codeshare Disclosure Violations - DOT Press Release

http://www.carlsonwagonlit.com/


 

Frosch International Travel, Inc.

Order 2013-10-10
OST-2013-0004 - Violations of 49 USC § 41712 and 14 CFR Part 257

Issued and Served October 22, 2013

Consent Order

This consent order concerns failures by Frosch International Travel, Inc. to disclose codeshare arrangements during telephone conversations. Disclosure is required by 49 USC § 41712(c) and 14 CFR Part 257 during airline reservation calls. These failures to fully and timely disclose also violated 49 USC § 41712(a), a statutory prohibition against unfair and deceptive practices. This order directs Frosch to cease and desist from future violations of Part 257 and section 41712, and assesses $65,000 in civil penalties.

An investigation by the Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings revealed a lack of full compliance by Frosch with section 257.5(b) of the Department’s code-share rule and 49 USC § 41712(c). For a period of time during January 2013, Enforcement Office staff made a number of telephone calls to Frosch as potential purchasers and inquired about booking flights. In almost all of the calls, Frosch reservation agents failed to disclose both the corporate and the marketing names of the transporting carrier, as required by the rule. In one call, the agent disclosed both the corporate and the marketing names of the carrier, but only after being prompted by the Enforcement Office staff caller. During three calls, Frosch agents disclosed either the corporate or the marketing name of the carrier, but again only after being prompted by the caller.

The Enforcement Office considers section 257.5(b) and 49 USC § 41712(c) to require that oral code-share disclosures be provided whenever an agent first mentions a codeshare flight in response to a specific consumer inquiry, including inquiries that may involve only a request for information. In the test calls to Frosch, the agents failed to timely inform the callers of the identity of the airline that would actually operate the aircraft on which the consumer would be flying if that flight were booked, despite the callers identifying the codeshare flight as being of interest to them.

By: Samuel Podberesky

DOT Fines Ticket Agents for Codeshare Disclosure Violations - DOT Press Release

http://www.frosch.com


 

Jet Airways (India) Ltd.

Order 2013-10-11
OST-2013-0004 - Violations of 14 CFR Part 244 and 49 USC 41708

Issued and Served October 22, 2013

Consent Order

This consent order results from the failure of Jet Airways (India) Ltd. to provide accurate tarmac delay information to the Department of Transportation in violation of 14 CFR Part 244 and 49 USC § 41708. This order directs Jet Airways to cease and desist from future similar violations of Part 244 and section 41708, and assesses the carrier $10,000 in civil penalties.

Jet Airways is a foreign air carrier as defined by 49 USC § 40102(a)(21)3 that operates scheduled service into Newark Liberty International Airport, a large hub airport, using at least one aircraft having a designed seating capacity of 30 or more passenger seats. On October 29, 2011, as a result of a winter weather event, Jet Airways flight 228, traveling from Brussels Airport in Belgium to Newark Liberty International Airport, diverted to Bradley International Airport. BDL is not a regular diversion airport for Jet Airways and, consequently, the carrier did not have a coordinated contingency plan with BDL when it decided to divert there on October 29, 2011.5 An investigation by the Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings revealed that after being diverted to BDL, 217 passengers were delayed on the tarmac for five hours and fourteen minutes on flight 228.

Additionally, in its original certified October 2011 BTS Form 244 filing, Jet Airways reported a tarmac delay of four hours and forty minutes. After the Enforcement Office initiated an investigation of the circumstances surrounding the lengthy tarmac delay, Jet Airways re-examined its data and concluded that it had made an erroneous report to the Department and that the actual length of the delay was five hours and fourteen minutes. Jet Airways then filed a corrected BTS Form 244; however, the corrected data was filed only after the ATCR had been published and released to consumers. Jet Airways’ failure to submit accurate data in accordance with 14 CFR 244.3 wasted valuable Department resources, since it was only after the Enforcement Office initiated its investigation and Jet Airways re-examined its data that the inaccuracy was discovered. Additionally, the Department had to expend further resources to reissue the ATCR with Jet Airways’ corrected data.

By: Samuel Podberesky

http://www.jetairways.com


 

United Air Lines, Inc.


Order 2013-10-13
OST-2013-0004
- Violations of 14 CFR Part 259 and 49 U.S.C. §§ 41712 and 42301

Issued and Served October 25, 2013

Consent Order

This consent order concerns violations by United Airlines, Inc. of 14 CFR Part 259, the Department’s tarmac delay rule, 49 USC § 41712, which prohibits unfair and deceptive practices, and 49 USC § 42301, which requires adherence to a carrier’s tarmac delay contingency plan,when United failed to adhere to the assurances in its contingency plan for lengthy tarmac delays for thirteen flights at Chicago-O’Hare International Airport on July 13, 2012. Specifically, United permitted thirteen domestic flights to remain on the tarmac for more than three hours without providing United and United Express passengers an opportunity to deplane and, in the case of two flights, failed to provide operable lavatories during lengthy tarmac delays. This order directs United to cease and desist from future similar violations of Part 259 and sections 41712 and 42301 and assesses United $1,100,000 in civil penalties.

Several of the flights at issue were operated by other carriers doing business as United Express under codeshare agreements with United. The affiliated carriers were: ExpressJet Airlines, SkyWest Airlines, Mesa Air Group, Shuttle America Corporation and GoJet Airlines. Based on the facts described below and for the reasons described in the Decision section of this order, the related violations by the United Express carriers are not included in this order and instead the tarmac delay cases related to those carriers are being closed with warning letters.

By: Samuel Podberesky

http://united.com


 

US Airways, Inc.

Order 2013-11-4
OST-2013-0004 - Violations of 14 CFR Part 382 and 49 USC §§ 41310, 41702, 41705 and 41712

Issued and Served November 4, 2013

Consent Order

This order concerns violations by US Airways, Inc. of the requirements of 14 CFR Part 382 with respect to providing passengers with a disability with assistance in moving within the terminal. Part 382 implements the Air Carrier Access Act, 49 USC § 41705, and violations of that part also violate the ACAA. To the extent that the ACAA and Part 382 violations occurred in interstate air transportation, the incidents are also violations of 49 USC § 41702, which requires that air carriers provide safe and adequate interstate air transportation; to the extent the violations occurred in foreign air transportation, the incidents would violate 49 USC § 41310, which, in part, prohibits air carriers and foreign air carriers from unreasonably discriminating against any person in foreign air transportation. Violations of the ACAA and Part 382, as well as of 49 USC §§ 41702 and 41310, are unfair and deceptive practices in violation of 49 USC § 41712. This order directs US Airways to cease and desist from future violations of Part 382 and the ACAA and assesses the carrier $1,200,000 in civil penalties.

The Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings investigated US Airways’ compliance with the provisions of Part 382 by conducting an on-site regulatory compliance inspection at US Airways’ headquarters during February/March 2012. The Enforcement Office reviewed all disability-related complaints relating to incidents at PHL and CLT received by the carrier during 14 separate week-long intervals in 2011 and 2012. The Enforcement Office also reviewed the contracts of US Airways with its wheelchair vendor at PHL and CLT. The Enforcement Office’s investigation revealed a significant number of violations of section 382.91 at PHL and CLT. Specifically, US Airways used a combination of electric carts and wheelchairs in providing assistance at these two airports. The investigation revealed that this system necessitated many transfer points for passengers that required assistance moving within the terminals often leading to unreasonable delays for those passengers. Further, a number of the complaints that we reviewed involved egregious violations, including passengers missing connecting flights because of inadequate connecting assistance. Due to the nature and breadth of US Airways’ section 382.91 violations, the Enforcement Office determined that enforcement action was warranted.

By: Samuel Podberesky

DOT Fines US Airways for Failure to Provide Wheelchair Assistance to Passengers with Disabilities - DOT Press Release - November 4

http://www.usairways.com/


 

American Airlines, Inc.

Order 2013-11-6
OST-2013-0004

Issued and Served November 7, 2013

Consent Order

This order concerns violations by American Airlines of the full-fare advertising rule, 14 CFR 399.84(a), and the statutory prohibition against unfair and deceptive practices, 49 U.S.C. § 41712. It directs American to cease and desist from future similar violations and assesses the carrier $20,000 in civil penalties.

The Department takes compliance with the consumer protection provisions of Federal aviation statutes and regulations very seriously. The Enforcement Office has carefully considered the information provided by American but continues to believe that enforcement action is warranted. Notwithstanding American’s quibbling about the clarity of the Enforcement Office’s 2012 guidance, the carrier boldly and prominently advertised fares as “free” when they were not, a clear violation of section 399.84(a) and section 41712.

By: Samuel Podberesky


 

GoJet Airlines, Inc.

Order 2013-11-11
OST-2013-0004

Issued and Served November 14, 2013

Consent Order

This consent order concerns the failure of GoJet Airlines to timely file with the Department of Transportation Tarmac Delay Reports in violation of 14 CFR Part 244 and 49 U.S.C. § 41708. It directs GoJet to cease and desist from future similar violations of Part 244 and section 41708, and assesses the carrier a compromise civil penalty of $10,000.

GoJet Airlines believed at the time of this violation that it had complied with the reporting requirements of the Department. GoJet further believed that the Enforcement Office was already aware of the tarmac delay issues in question and the Enforcement Office was in discussions with both GoJet Airlines and its mainline partner about the tarmac delay issues. When GoJet inquired with the Enforcement Office about a duplicate filing, GoJet states that it was advised that duplicate filings with the Department would not be required, so GoJet did not make what it believed were duplicate filings. At the time GoJet believed that the filings had been made and that the Department was fully aware of the totality of the situation. Notwithstanding the above and in the interest of resolving this matter without further litigation, GoJet now agrees to this consent order with the Department.

By: Samuel Podberesky


 

Shuttle America Corporation

Order 2013-11-10
OST-2013-0004

Issued and Served November 14, 2013

Consent Order

This consent order concerns the failure of Shuttle America to timely file with the Department of Transportation Tarmac Delay Reports for three flights in violation of 14 CFR Part 244 and 49 U.S.C. § 41708. It directs Shuttle America to cease and desist from future similar violations of Part 244 and section 41708, and assesses the carrier a compromise civil penalty of $10,000.

In mitigation, Shuttle America states that it takes its reporting obligations very seriously. Shuttle America further states that United Airlines, the mainline carrier-partner on whose behalf Shuttle America operated these flights, represented to Shuttle America that it would file the Tarmac Delay Reports with respect to the flights on or before the deadline, and that United had in fact timely filed the Tarmac Delay Reports. Shuttle America further states that it reasonably relied on the mainline carrier’s representations, and that consistent with the Department’s guidance, Shuttle America did not need to file duplicative Tarmac Delay Reports. Shuttle America states that it later learned that United had timely filed the Section 42301(h) tarmac delay reports on August 13, 2012, but filed the Part 244 reports with the Office of Airline Information on September 11, 2012. Shuttle America contends and the Enforcement Office has confirmed that it was informed about the three tarmac delays in sufficient time for the flights to be included in the September 2012 Air Travel Consumer Report. Finally, Shuttle America states that, going forward, it will not rely on its mainline carrier-partners to file timely tarmac delay reports, but rather will file the reports itself.

By: Samuel Podberesky


 

BestCare EMS, Ltd.

Order 2013-11-14
OST-2013-0004 - Violations of 49 USC §§ 41101 and 41712 and CAB Order 1983-1-36

Issued and Served November 20, 2013

Consent Order

This consent order concerns the unlawful holding out of direct air transportation by BestCare EMS, Ltd. an indirect air carrier specializing in air ambulance services. The conduct in question exceeded the scope of the economic authority in Civil Aeronautics Board Order 1983-1-36 and violated 49 USC § 41101, the Department’s economic licensing requirement for air carriers. Those violations also constituted an unfair and deceptive trade practice and unfair method of competition in violation of 49 USC § 41712. This consent order directs BestCare to cease and desist from such further violations and assesses BestCare a compromise civil penalty of $15,000.

BestCare provides air ambulance services worldwide. It arranges medical air transportation and employs the emergency medical technicians and paramedics who accompany patients on flights that are operated by direct air carriers, pursuant to contracts with BestCare. BestCare holds neither the necessary economic authority from the Department, nor the corresponding safety authority from the FAA required of a direct air carrier and thus may not operate aircraft or hold out that it does so.

An investigation by the Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings found numerous improper statements and representations on BestCare’s website that implied that BestCare had the authority to operate its own flights. For example, the “License and Insurance” page had a hyperlink that stated “FAA 135 Air Taxi Certificate.” Below this, it stated “Copies of Certification and Insurance available upon Request.” These statements strongly implied that BestCare held an FAA-issued Air Carrier Certificate and exercised operational control over flights. Furthermore, BestCare’s “Medical Aircraft” page stated “More Info about the BestCare Air Medical Aircraft Fleet” and gave specifications for a fleet of aircraft, when no such fleet existed. The “FAQ” section had a hyperlink to this non-existent fleet of aircraft that stated “Read more about the BestCare Air Ambulance Fleet.” These statements portrayed BestCare as operating its own, proprietary fleet of aircraft. As explained above, such statements and representations violate CAB Order 1983-1-36 and 49 USC §§ 41101 and 41712.

By: Samuel Podberesky

http://www.bestcareems.com


 

Alaska Airlines, Inc.

Order 2013-11-17
OST-2013-0004 - Violations of 14 CFR Part 259 and 49 USC §§ 41712 and 42301

Issued and Served November 22, 2013

Consent Order

This consent order concerns violations by Alaska Airlines, Inc. of 14 CFR Part 259 and 49 USC §§ 41712 and 42301. Specifically, the carrier failed to adhere to the assurance in its contingency plan for lengthy tarmac delays that the carrier would provide adequate food and water no later than two hours after an aircraft leaves the gate if the aircraft remains on the tarmac. This order directs Alaska to cease and desist from future similar violations of 14 CFR Part 259 and 49 USC §§ 41712 and 42301, and assesses the carrier $30,000 in civil penalties.

Alaska is an air carrier as defined by 49 USC § 40102(a)(2)2 that operates scheduled service at Philadelphia International Airport, a large hub airport, and that uses at least one aircraft having a design capacity of more than 30 passenger seats. Alaska has adopted a contingency plan for lengthy tarmac delays covering its scheduled passenger operations at PHL. This plan includes assurances that food and water will be stored on board all of its aircraft and will be provided to passengers within two hours of the beginning of a tarmac delay. An investigation by the Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings revealed that on May 22, 2013, Alaska flight 33, scheduled to fly from PHL to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, experienced a lengthy tarmac delay at PHL.

The delay occurred during and after a severe thunderstorm in the Philadelphia area. Alaska flight 33 pushed back from the gate at 5:49 p.m., local time, and was thirtieth in the take-off line. During periods in which the aircraft was stopped on the taxiway, which lasted as long as twenty minutes, the captain permitted passengers and flight attendants to move about the cabin. Once the tarmac delay had lasted approximately 90 minutes, flight attendants served snacks and beverages to passengers seated in the first class cabin. However, by the time the tarmac delay had lasted 120 minutes, flight attendants had failed to serve snacks and water to all passengers seated in the coach cabin and advised passengers seated in the coach cabin that food and water were available “upon request” in the galley.

In summary, despite having adequate snacks and water on board, Alaska failed to provide adequate food and water to all of the 160 passengers on flight 33 before the tarmac delay exceeded two hours. Alaska’s failure to adhere to the terms of its contingency plan in this regard violated 14 CFR 259.4(b)(3) and 49 USC §§ 41712 and 42301(e)(3).

By: Samuel Podberesky

http://www.alaskaair.com/


 

VIH Cougar Helicopters, Inc.

Order 2013-11-16
OST-2013-0004 - Violations of 14 CFR Part 298 and 49 USC § 41101

Issued and Served November 22, 2013

Consent Order

This order concerns unauthorized interstate and foreign air transportation by VIH Cougar Helicopters, Inc. which, while under the actual control of a non-US citizen, engaged in air services as a common carrier between points in the United States and between points in the United States and points abroad. VIH Cougar’s conduct in this regard violated 49 USC § 41101 and 14 CFR Part 298. This order directs VIH Cougar to cease and desist from future violations of those provisions and assesses the carrier $300,000 in civil penalties.

VIH Cougar was a registered air taxi operating under 14 CFR Part 298.4 It held Part 133 and 135 operating authority from the FAA. The air carrier provided a diverse range of services including seismic monitoring, firefighting, and passenger and cargo operations using a fleet of helicopters. VIH Cougar’s headquarters was located in Bellingham, Washington, and it maintained bases in Galliano, Louisiana, and Boise, Idaho. The air carrier’s passenger and cargo operations were primarily conducted from its Galliano operating base, while its seismic monitoring and firefighting operations were primarily conducted from its Boise operating base.

From 2012 to the present, VIH Cougar’s ownership and management structure has undergone numerous changes. On March 12, 2012, when the Department issued an order to show cause why it should not issue an order finding that VIH Cougar did not meet the US citizenship requirements set forth at 49 USC § 40102(a)(15), ownership was divided between VIH Western, LLC, and VIH USA, which owned 76 and 24 percent of VIH Cougar, respectively. VIH Western was wholly owned by a US citizen, while VIH USA was wholly owned by a Canadian corporation that was in turn wholly owned by a Canadian citizen. The Department tentatively found that VIH Cougar was not a U.S. citizen because it was under the actual control of a Canadian citizen. In May 2012, in response to the Department’s tentative findings, VIH Cougar provided documentation to the Department indicating that it was restructuring its company. In June 2012, VIH Cougar provided a report stating that it had entered into a letter of intent with a U.S. citizen purchaser in an attempt to comply with the citizenship requirement. A majority of the ownership interest in VIH Cougar was subsequently sold to Turner Aviation Holdings, LLC, a US citizen, pursuant to a Share Purchase Agreement dated June 27, 2012.

Nevertheless, after reviewing the previous changes to VIH Cougar’s management structure, the Department issued Order 2013-6-8 (June 11, 2013), where it determined that the changes made in response to the Department’s 2012 show cause order were insufficient and that the Canadian citizen still had the ability to exert substantial influence over VIH Cougar’s operations and its management. The Department found that VIH Cougar was under the actual control of VIH Group, a citizen of Canada, and its Canadian citizen owner; and therefore was not a US citizen under the statute or otherwise eligible for exemption authority under Part 298 of the Department’s rules. VIH Cougar’s operations while under the control of the Canadian citizen were in violation of 49 USC § 41101 and 14 CFR Part 298.

By: Samuel Podberesky

OST-2012-0022 - VIH Cougar Helicopters Citizenship Proceeding

http://www.cougar.ca/


 

VRG Linhas Aereas S.A. d/b/a GOL Linhas Aereas Inteligentes

Order 2013-11-23
OST-2013-0004 - Violations of 14 CFR Parts 259 and 399 and 49 USC §§ 41712 and 42302

Issued and Served November 26, 2013

Consent Order

This order concerns violations by VRG Linhas Aéreas S.A. d/b/a GOL Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes of the consumer protection provisions contained in 14 CFR Parts 259 and 399 and 49 USC § 42302, as well as the statutory prohibition against unfair and deceptive practices, 49 USC § 41712. It directs GOL to cease and desist from future similar violations and assesses the carrier $250,000 in civil penalties.

Contingency Plan for Lengthy Tarmac Delays and Customr Service Plan:

For a period of time beginning in November 2012, when GOL launched its US website, GOL failed to post its tarmac delay contingency plan and its customer service plan online. GOL’s violation of sections 259.6(a) and (b) also constitutes an unfair and deceptive practice and unfair method of competition in violation of 49 USC § 41712.

Contract of Carriage:

For a period of time beginning in November 2012, visitors to the GOL website could only access the carrier’s contract of carriage after entering a proposed itinerary by clicking a link on the search results page. Thus, a consumer had to begin the process of searching for a desired itinerary before obtaining access to GOL’s contract of carriage. Such placement does not satisfy the requirement that a carrier post its contract of carriage in “easily accessible form.” For example, a consumer wishing to purchase a ticket through GOL’s telephone reservation center or through a ticket agent, would be unable to easily access the contract of carriage. Moreover, even consumers desiring to complete their purchases online would not have the option of comparing GOL’s contract of carriage to contracts offered by competing carriers until taking affirmative steps in the booking process. Similarly, a consumer who previously purchased a ticket online would have to begin a new booking in order to reference the contract of carriage applicable to the previously-purchased ticket. GOL’s violation of section 259.6(c) constitutes an unfair and deceptive practice and unfair method of competition in violation of 49 USC § 41712.

Notice of Fees for Optional Service:

For a period of time beginning in November 2012, GOL failed to provide a link to a list of its fees for optional services.

For a period of time beginning in November 2012, GOL failed to meet the requirements of section 399.85(b) by advertising fares on its website without disclosing that baggage fees may apply and without providing a link to potentially applicable baggage fees on the first screen on which a fare quotation appeared.

GOL’s violations of sections 399.85(d) and (b) also constitute an unfair and deceptive practice and unfair method of competition in violation of 49 USC § 41712.

Advertising:

For a period of time beginning in November 2012, the fares displayed on GOL’s website in response to consumer searches did not include taxes and fees. Instead, the website advertised a specific fare and, after a consumer selected his or her desired itinerary, the price originally presented on the website increased in order to reflect taxes and fees added to the fare. Therefore, GOL violated section 399.84(a).

GOL’s violation of section 399.84(a) also constitutes an unfair and deceptive practice and unfair method of competition in violation of 49 USC § 41712.

Informing Consumers How to Complain:

For a period of time beginning in November 2012, GOL failed to meet the requirements of 14 CFR 259.7 and 49 USC § 42302(b) by not informing consumers how to file complaints with the carrier and with the Department.

By: Samuel Podberesky

DOT Fines Brazilian Airline for Violations of Airline Consumer Rules - DOT Press Release

http://www.voegol.com.br/


 

American Airlines, Inc.

Order 2013-12-4
OST-2013-0004 - Violations of 49 USC §§ 41705 and 41712 and 14 CFR Part 382

Issued and Served December 6, 2013

Consent Order

This order concerns violations by American Airlines, Inc., of the requirements of 14 CFR Part 382, the Department of Transportation’s regulation implementing the Air Carrier Access Act, 49 USC § 41705, with respect to its transportation of an individual with a disability. Violations of Part 382 also violate the ACAA, and violations of the ACAA and Part 382 also constitute an unfair and deceptive practice in violation of 49 USC § 41712. This order directs American to cease and desist from future violations of Part 382 and the ACAA, and assesses the carrier $20,000 in civil penalties.

Mr. D has severe mobility impairments that substantially limit major life activities. At ORD, Mr. D advised American personnel as to how his wheelchair should be correctly stowed while onboard the aircraft. Upon his arrival at DCA, the wheelchair would not operate. American personnel were able to eventually reassemble the wheelchair. However, the wheelchair malfunctioned shortly thereafter, causing Mr. D to be thrown face first from the wheelchair. Accordingly, American violated section 382.129(b) by failing to correctly reassemble Mr. D’s wheelchair and to return it to him in the condition in which the carrier received it

By: Samuel Podberesky

http://www.aa.com/


 

Laurus Travel Incorporated d/b/a Laurus Travel

Order 2013-12-7
OST-2013-0004 - Violations of 49 USC § 41712 and 14 CFR Part 399

Issued and Served December 13, 2013

Consent Order

This consent order concerns advertisements by Laurus Travel Incorporated d/b/a Laurus Travel that violate the Department’s requirements specified in Part 399 of the Department’s regulations, and constitute unfair and deceptive trade practices in violation of 49 USC § 41712. An investigation by the Department’s Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings revealed that, prior to January 26, 2012, Laurus Travel advertised air tour packages whose prices did not meet Department requirements under Part 399, because they failed to include all fuel surcharges, failed to state that the prices were subject to post-sale price increases, and failed to provide proper disclosure that significant restrictions were applicable. The advertisements also failed to provide appropriate notice of the existence, nature and amount of other charges and additional taxes and fees that, until January 26, 2012, were permitted to be stated separately from the base fare. Moreover, the prices listed in the Laurus Travel’s advertisements for air, land and cruise packages published after January 26, 2012, continued to state that the prices were subject to post-sale price increases even after final payment. Those advertisements violated 14 CFR 399.84(a), 399.88 and 399.89. This order directs Laurus Travel to cease and desist from future violations and assesses the company a compromise civil penalty of $26,000.

Prior to January 26, 2012, numerous advertisements published by Laurus Travel on its website and other sites failed to meet Department requirements that all advertising state the entire price to be paid by the consumer. Among other problems, the advertisements did not properly disclose the existence, nature and amount of other taxes, charges and fees that the consumer would have to pay for the air transportation or air tour, but that, under the rules then in effect, were permitted to be stated separately from the base fare. The Enforcement Office informed Laurus Travel of these apparent violations.

For a significant time period following January 26, 2012, Laurus Travel published daily advertisements on its own and other web sites, promoting air tour packages, combining air fares, hotel, cruises, land tours, and related amenities. However, the prices advertised by Laurus Travel for its air package tours did not indicate that numerous significant restrictions applied. The prices were cash only prices (except for the initial deposit), and were based on double occupancy. Service and/or booking fees also were not included.

Information warning a consumer that subsequent fuel or service surcharges might be imposed could be uncovered on the Laurus Travel web site only if the reader scrolled down the tour advertisements’ main pages to a group of subtitled hyperlinks listed in the fine print area, and clicked the link, “Terms & Conditions.”

When selected, that hyperlink carried the reader to another page where the consumer was informed for the first time that, under the applicable Terms and Conditions, fuel surcharges might be added to the trip cost and were subject to increase even after final payment. Laurus Travel did not comply with the requirements prohibiting price increases after full payment as contained in sections 399.88 and 399.89.

Thus, the air tour packages promoted in Laurus Travel’s web site advertisements did not comply with the Department’s full-fare advertising rule, 14 CFR 399.84, in effect prior to the January 26, 2012 revision, or subsequently with 14 CFR 399.84(a), 399.88 and 399.89. In addition to violating the requirements of Part 399, and related Department precedent, such practices constitute an unfair and deceptive trade practice in violation of 49 USC § 41712.

By: Samuel Podberesky

http://www.laurustravel.com


 

Virgin America, Inc.

Order 2013-12-16
OST-2013-0004 - Violations of 49 USC § 41708 and 14 CFR Part 241

Issued and Served December 26, 2013

Consent Order

This consent order concerns reporting delinquencies by Virgin America Inc. that constitute violations of 49 USC § 41708 and the accounting and reporting requirements specified in 14 CFR Part 241. This order directs Virgin America to cease and desist from future violations, and assesses the carrier a compromise civil penalty of $60,000.

Virgin America failed to file in a timely manner a revised Form 41 for the fourth quarter of 2012, despite repeated requests from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics and failed to submit in a timely manner a complete Form 41 for the first quarter of 2013.

This is Virgin America’s second violation of the Department’s accounting and reporting requirements since 2008. By Order 2009-1-17, issued on January 30, 2009, Virgin America was found to have violated 49 USC § 41708 and 14 CFR Part 241 by failing to file in a timely manner certain quarterly financial reports with the Department for both the first and second calendar quarters of 2008.

By: Samuel Podberesky

http://www.virginamerica.com


 

VIH Cougar Helicopters, Inc.

Order 2014-3-7
OST-2012-0022

OST-2013-0004 - Consent Orders

Issued March 11, 2014 | Served March 12, 2014

Order Denying Motion for Clarification and Dismissing Formal Complaint of Petroleum Helicopters, Northern Pioneer Helicopters and Soloy Helicopters

By this order, we dismiss the motion for clarification of Order 2013-11-16 and dismiss without prejudice the formal complaint of Petroleum Helicopters, Inc., Northern Pioneer Helicopters LLC and Soloy Helicopters LLC. Based on our review of Order 2013-11-16 and the evidence presented by the Complainants in their formal complaint, the Department has determined that Order 2013-11-16 as originally issued is clear and that there is insufficient evidence to initiate a formal investigation.

With regard to allegations that CHI is being illegally controlled by a foreign citizen, the Department has no evidence of prohibited non-US citizen involvement in the operation of CHI. The Complainants’ Motion similarly contained no evidence of ongoing violations of Order 2013-11-16 or of the statutes and regulations cited therein. As such, the Department dismisses the Complainants’ formal complaint filed in the captioned dockets.

By: Blane Workie

 


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