Categorized | News, Regional

Feds Fine South African, LAN, Caribbean Airlines

Carriers violated price advertising rules, delayed baggage reimbursements

ConsumerAffairs.com

 

Caribbean Airlines

The U.S. Department of Transportation has fined South African Airways and LAN Airlines for violating its price advertising rules.  Caribbean Airlines was fined for improperly limiting reimbursements for delayed baggage.

“When passengers shop for an airline ticket or air tour, they have a right to know the full price they will have to pay,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.  “We expect airlines and ticket agents to treat their passengers fairly, and we will take enforcement action when they violate our price advertising rules.”

Caribbean

Caribbean Airlines, a carrier based in Trinidad and Tobago, was fined $60,000 for limiting reimbursements for lost, damaged and delayed baggage to less than consumers were entitled under an international treaty.

“Both domestic and international travelers have a right to be fairly compensated for lost, delayed and damaged baggage,” LaHood said.  “Consumers have the right to be treated fairly when they fly, and we will continue to take enforcement action when their rights are violated.”

Under the Montreal Convention, an international agreement that sets liability limits for international air transportation, airlines are liable for damages caused by delayed baggage up to a limit that is the equivalent of just under $1,800 in U.S. currency, unless the carrier has taken all reasonable measures to prevent the damage or it was impossible to take these measures.

The Convention requires carriers to compensate passengers for loss, damage or delay of baggage on international flights in most cases. It also forbids carriers from setting a lower baggage compensation limit for international flights or from refusing to accept liability for the loss of any types of baggage, such as jewelry, electronics, or other high-value items.

A review of Caribbean’s website last spring by the Department’s Aviation Enforcement Office led to an investigation of the carrier’s baggage liability policies, revealing numerous violations of the Convention between March 1, 2010 and April 30, 2011.

Caribbean routinely told passengers that it was not liable for the loss of irreplaceable or high-value items such as electronics, jewelry, cameras or cash, and the carrier’s website also stated that it would not compensate passengers for the loss of these items. In a number of cases, passengers found that some of these expensive items had been removed from carry-on bags they were required to check after boarding because of cabin space limitations.

In addition, Caribbean violated the Convention by regularly refusing to pay claims for damaged baggage and by limiting payments for buying necessities due to delayed bags to $25-$75 per day. Caribbean also frequently required passengers to file a report on their missing property before leaving the airport terminal, which unreasonably limited the time they had to discover that items were missing from their baggage.

 

South African

The South African Airways case also included Destination Southern Africa.  The companies were fined for violating federal aviation laws and the Department’s rules prohibiting deceptive price advertising in air travel.  South African Airways was fined $55,000 while Destination Southern Africa, which promotes air travel packages for South African Airways as well as its own tours, was fined $20,000.

An investigation by the Department’s Aviation Enforcement Office found that ads on both companies’ websites failed to adequately disclose government taxes and fees that were in addition to the advertised fare.  The ads also did not properly disclose that the air and hotel tour prices were available only with double occupancy.

When consumers clicked on a link next to the fare listed on the homepage, they were taken to a second page where they could select a specific vacation package.  Only after making a selection were they taken to a third page where they could see the taxes and fees and the requirement for double occupancy.
The websites violated DOT rules requiring any advertising that includes a price for air transportation to state the full price to be paid by the consumer, including all carrier-imposed surcharges.

Today’s penalties follow a $20,000 fine in September 2010 against Lion World Travel, another ticket agent marketing tours for South African Airways, for violating the Department’s full-fare advertising rule.

LAN

Chile-based LAN Airlines was fined $50,000, also for violating federal aviation laws and the Department’s rules prohibiting deceptive price advertising in air travel.

For a period of time in 2011, LAN used a program on its website that allowed consumers to search for flights by exact dates or by flexible dates.  When passengers made searches, LAN provided air fare quotes along with a note that the fares did not include taxes or fees.

However, the page containing the quotes did not indicate either the type or amount of the fees, and there was no link that took consumers to information about the additional charges.

 

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

Carriers violated price advertising rules, delayed baggage reimbursements

ConsumerAffairs.com

 

Caribbean Airlines

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The U.S. Department of Transportation has fined South African Airways and LAN Airlines for violating its price advertising rules.  Caribbean Airlines was fined for improperly limiting reimbursements for delayed baggage.

“When passengers shop for an airline ticket or air tour, they have a right to know the full price they will have to pay,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.  “We expect airlines and ticket agents to treat their passengers fairly, and we will take enforcement action when they violate our price advertising rules.”

Caribbean

Caribbean Airlines, a carrier based in Trinidad and Tobago, was fined $60,000 for limiting reimbursements for lost, damaged and delayed baggage to less than consumers were entitled under an international treaty.

“Both domestic and international travelers have a right to be fairly compensated for lost, delayed and damaged baggage,” LaHood said.  “Consumers have the right to be treated fairly when they fly, and we will continue to take enforcement action when their rights are violated.”

Under the Montreal Convention, an international agreement that sets liability limits for international air transportation, airlines are liable for damages caused by delayed baggage up to a limit that is the equivalent of just under $1,800 in U.S. currency, unless the carrier has taken all reasonable measures to prevent the damage or it was impossible to take these measures.

The Convention requires carriers to compensate passengers for loss, damage or delay of baggage on international flights in most cases. It also forbids carriers from setting a lower baggage compensation limit for international flights or from refusing to accept liability for the loss of any types of baggage, such as jewelry, electronics, or other high-value items.

A review of Caribbean’s website last spring by the Department’s Aviation Enforcement Office led to an investigation of the carrier’s baggage liability policies, revealing numerous violations of the Convention between March 1, 2010 and April 30, 2011.

Caribbean routinely told passengers that it was not liable for the loss of irreplaceable or high-value items such as electronics, jewelry, cameras or cash, and the carrier’s website also stated that it would not compensate passengers for the loss of these items. In a number of cases, passengers found that some of these expensive items had been removed from carry-on bags they were required to check after boarding because of cabin space limitations.

In addition, Caribbean violated the Convention by regularly refusing to pay claims for damaged baggage and by limiting payments for buying necessities due to delayed bags to $25-$75 per day. Caribbean also frequently required passengers to file a report on their missing property before leaving the airport terminal, which unreasonably limited the time they had to discover that items were missing from their baggage.

 

South African

The South African Airways case also included Destination Southern Africa.  The companies were fined for violating federal aviation laws and the Department’s rules prohibiting deceptive price advertising in air travel.  South African Airways was fined $55,000 while Destination Southern Africa, which promotes air travel packages for South African Airways as well as its own tours, was fined $20,000.

An investigation by the Department’s Aviation Enforcement Office found that ads on both companies’ websites failed to adequately disclose government taxes and fees that were in addition to the advertised fare.  The ads also did not properly disclose that the air and hotel tour prices were available only with double occupancy.

When consumers clicked on a link next to the fare listed on the homepage, they were taken to a second page where they could select a specific vacation package.  Only after making a selection were they taken to a third page where they could see the taxes and fees and the requirement for double occupancy.
The websites violated DOT rules requiring any advertising that includes a price for air transportation to state the full price to be paid by the consumer, including all carrier-imposed surcharges.

Today’s penalties follow a $20,000 fine in September 2010 against Lion World Travel, another ticket agent marketing tours for South African Airways, for violating the Department’s full-fare advertising rule.

LAN

Chile-based LAN Airlines was fined $50,000, also for violating federal aviation laws and the Department’s rules prohibiting deceptive price advertising in air travel.

For a period of time in 2011, LAN used a program on its website that allowed consumers to search for flights by exact dates or by flexible dates.  When passengers made searches, LAN provided air fare quotes along with a note that the fares did not include taxes or fees.

However, the page containing the quotes did not indicate either the type or amount of the fees, and there was no link that took consumers to information about the additional charges.