(The following press release from the U.S. Department of Transportation
was received by e-mail. The sender verified the statement.)
DOT Fines Brazilian Airline for Violations of Airline Consumer Rules
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today fined the Brazilian airline
GOL $250,000 for violating a number of DOT’s rules protecting the rights of air
travelers. This is the largest penalty assessed for violations of the rules
adopted in April 2011.
The airline was ordered to cease and desist from further violations of the
Department’s airline consumer rules.
“We adopted these rules to ensure that passengers are treated with respect when
they buy a ticket or board a plane,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony
Foxx. “We will not tolerate disregard of our rules and will take enforcement
action when necessary to protect travelers.”
The Department’s Aviation Enforcement Office found that GOL’s U.S. website, for
a period of time after it was launched in November 2012, failed to include a
variety of information and features required by DOT air travel consumer
protection rules. The website did not include a contingency plan for handling
lengthy tarmac delays or a link from the homepage to a list of fees for baggage
and other optional services.
GOL also violated DOT’s full-fare advertising requirement by failing to include
taxes and fees in fares displayed on the website in response to consumer
searches. The full fare, including taxes and fees, was available only after the
consumer selected a specific itinerary.
The airline also failed to post its contract of carriage in an easily
accessible form on its website. A consumer had to begin the process of
searching for an itinerary before being able to gain access to the contract
information. This made it hard to easily compare GOL’s contract with those of
other airlines, and made obtaining the contract difficult for passengers who
wanted to review the information online before booking a flight by telephone or
with a ticket agent.
GOL also failed to include on its website required information on how consumers
can file a complaint with the airline.
Today’s consent order is available at www.regulations.gov [
http://www.regulations.gov/ ], docket DOT-OST-2013-0004.
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