Feds Fine Southwest $200K for Violating Ad Rules

The folks at the Department of Transportation keep letting the airlines know they mean business when it comes to consumer rights and proved it by fining yet another airline. The DOT’s latest target, Southwest, was hit with a $200,000 fine for allegedly violating the government’s full-fare advertising rules.

One airline snafu that got passengers singing

Specific Violations

Specifically, Southwest has been accused of two separate violations:

The airline is said to have advertised one-way fares for $100 or less for travel on Feb. 14 “but failed to include a reasonable number of seats available in a significant number of city-pair markets in the fare sale.”

Then, earlier in the year, Southwest advertised $66 one-way fares from Dallas to Branson for travel from March 1-21, but the DOT said, “there were no seats available at the sale fare on any day during the sale period.”

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Southwest’s Response

FareCompare contacted Southwest spokesman Brad Hawkins who said, “These were temporary and unintentional circumstances that were aggravated by a technical glitch in our inventory and sales systems.  We’ve worked with the DOT to address their concerns and have corrected the issues internally to prevent this from happening again.”

Other Airlines, Bigger Fines

Perhaps it should also be pointed out that $200,000 is by no means a record-breaking fine. Earlier this year, Delta was hit with a $750,000 fine for bumping violations and in 2011, American Eagle was on the receiving end of a nearly $1 million fine for long tarmac delays. Nevertheless, the fine has to sting at least in the arena of public relations – and perhaps that’s the point.

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Published: July 30, 2013