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July 27, 2012

DOT fines Travelocity $180,000 for not showing full fares

The Department of Transportation fined Travelocity.com $180,000, saying the Southlake-based online travel site did not advertise the full fares in its ads by not including fuel surcharges.

“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.

The DOT said its investigation in September 2011 found that Travelocity's "flexible dates tool" did not always include fuel surcharges on international fares. The fuel surcharge was only listed on the final page consumers viewed prior to purchasing the itinerary.

In its report, the DOT said that Travelocity owed $90,000 within the next thirty days but if it does not repeat the violations, it will not have to pay the other half of the fine.

Travelocity spokesman Joel Frey said the firm disagrees with the DOT but agreed to settle the matter to avoid litigation.

"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," Frey said. "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."

-Andrea Ahles

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