Travelocity received a hefty fine from the Department of Transportation for failing to show the real prices of some of their fares on their website. The online travel giant has to pay $180,000 for failing to advertise the prices that include fuel costs.
The Department of Transportation found that Travelocity was showing prices that were lower than the actual costs in their "flexible dates tool." In a september 2011 investigation, they found that the travel site didn't include fuel surcharges that are a part of international airfares.
The DOT also found that the site only gave the full price on the final page before booking a trip online. For some itineraries, a paper ticket is required which costs an extra $29.95.
"Many consumers choose their flights based on price, which is why we require all airfare ads to include the full price consumers will have to pay," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
According to a rule that took effect on January 26, online travel agents and airlines must show fares that include all extra taxes and fees including government fees. Last week, an appeals court decided that the rule would stick after certain airlines tried to fight it.
Prior to this rule, airlines and agents were allowed to leave out the government taxes and fees. Travelocity's violation took place before this rule was set, but the airline failed to show charges that were required to be shown before this new rule took place.
Travelocity has to pay $90,000 within the next thirty days, but they will not have to pay the other half of the fine it they do not repeat the violations.
Travelocity disagrees with the fine, but they will pay it to settle the charges.
"Neither we nor the DOT received any complaints about the issues that the DOT raised with our Flexible Dates tool - in fact the tool was widely recognized as providing a unique capability to allow consumers to find low fares," spokesman Joel Frey told Star-Telegram. "Nevertheless, we cooperated with the DOT and took the extraordinary step of disabling our popular Flexible Dates tool in December, because of the DOT's concerns."
"We have always sought to provide consumers with full and accurate fare information, even as airlines add new surcharges," said spokesman Joel Frey, as quoted by the Los Angeles Times.