Three Major U.S. Airlines Have Been Fined for Violating Passengers' Rights
Violations involve the mishandling of overbooked flights, failure to provide timely compensation, inadequate wheelchair assistance and more.
According to the DOT, the largest fine was given to Frontier Airlines, which was fined $400,000 for violating oversales and disability rules, while American Airlines was fined $250,000 for failing to make timely refunds to passengers. Delta Air Lines was also fined $200,000 for filing inaccurate baggage reports.
As the DOT stated, Frontier "failed to seek volunteers before bumping passengers involuntarily, failed to provide bumped passengers the required written notice describing their rights, and failed to provide proper compensation to passengers in a timely manner.” It added that it reviewed more than 200 complaints against the airline.
The practice of overbooking flights has come under greater scrutiny in recent months with several high-profile incidents where airlines had to forcibly remove passengers from packed flights. However, as Reuters noted, in June Congress unveiled new legislation that could make it illegal for an airline to bump an already boarded passenger from a flight.
The DOT also found that Frontier failed to provide passengers with a disability prompt as well as adequate wheelchair assistance while boarding or exiting its aircrafts.
Frontier said in a statement that it “remains committed to complying with DOT rules," and that it has “taken steps including introducing a new reporting system." The airline now must also add a new quality assurance management position by September 1, according to Reuters.
For its part, American Airlines released a statement Friday noting it “is committed to providing timely refunds to our customers.”
Delta has yet to release a statement regarding the fines, however according to the DOT, the airline’s underreporting of baggage claims “made Delta’s ranking in the Department’s Air Travel Consumer Report seem better than it was at various times."