DOT fines US Airways over online pricing


US Airways Group Inc. was fined $40,000 by the U.S. Department of Transportation for not disclosing full ticket prices on its Web site.

The Transportation Department said it imposed the civil fine because US Airways violated rules that require airline advertisements to disclose the full price on the first Internet screen that provides a fare quote.

The department’s Aviation Enforcement Office said that “for a short period of time,” when consumers searched US Airways’ Web site for one-way flights, the Tempe, Ariz., carrier provided fares that did not include additional taxes and fees, or any notice that the additional charges would be added later in the transaction.

The department requires Internet advertising to display the full fare either on the first screen that provides fare quotes, or with a hyperlink that takes consumers to a page that describes the additional charges.

US Airways said in a consent order released by the Transportation Department that its failure to include the additional taxes and fees “was wholly unintentional and the result of an inadvertent programming error.”

The inadvertent error was “limited to a small percentage of the total searches conducted at the US Airways Web site,” the airline said, and noted that all taxes and fees were included in the total price disclosed to consumers before payment was required.

“No consumer purchased a ticket without full knowledge of the total price before the entry of a credit-card number,” US Airways said, adding that “upon learning of the inadvertent programming error, US Airways took immediate and extensive action to correct the matter.”

The department said it reached a settlement with US Airways in order to avoid litigation. The airline will pay the fine within 15 days.

“When consumers shop for air travel, they have a right to know how much they will have to pay,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said. “We will continue to ensure that airlines comply with our price advertising rules.”