BA incurs US fine for breaching fare rules

British Airways has been fined $250,000 in the US for breaching government rules on advertising fares.

The US Department of Transportation (DoT) imposed the fine as it also found BA guilty of breaching the Montreal Convention on air travel.

In a statement the DoT said: “BA violated rules on full-fare advertising as well as an international treaty on reimbursements for mishandled baggage. The Department fined the carrier $250,000 [£155,000].”

The DoT’s Aviation Enforcement Office found BA “violated a number of price-advertising requirements”.

“The carrier promoted award travel in emails and on websites without providing disclosure of taxes and government fees. It also failed to include carrier-imposed charges, such as fuel surcharges, in the award prices.”

In one promotion, involving BA credit cards, the carrier advertised two tickets to London “without disclosing that passengers were required to pay mandatory surcharges that could total as much as $600 (£375) per person”.

In another, it advertised one-way fares “that were only available by purchasing a round-trip ticket”.

“In some ads, the notice of the round-trip requirement was in small type and beneath an illustration”, violating the Department’s policy that notices of round-trip purchase requirements “must be clear and conspicuous and be next to the advertised fare”.

The DoT said: “BA violated the Montreal Convention…by its stated policy not to pay compensation for loss, damage or theft from checked baggage of certain fragile or valuable items such as money, jewellery, electronic devices or silverware.

“The Convention allows carriers to limit their liability for lost baggage or items in baggage, but also states that carriers are liable for loss or theft of all types of checked baggage.”

US transportation secretary Ray LaHood said: “Consumers deserve fair treatment from airlines when it comes to price advertising and being reimbursed for lost, damaged or stolen baggage.

“To surprise consumers at the last minute of the purchase process with additional unadvertised costs is deceptive.”

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