The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Aviation Enforcement Office has issued a new notice to airlines and ticket agents that they must make completely clear to passengers if a flight they are selling is being operated under a codesharing arrangement.
Under codesharing, an airline sells tickets on flights which use that airline’s code, but which are actually operated by a different carrier.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) says it has long had rules requiring airlines to disclose codesharing arrangements to consumers before they book a flight, but new legislation adopted in August 2010 clarified these requirements for Internet websites that sell airline tickets.
“When passengers buy an airline ticket, they have the right to know which airline will be operating their flight,” says U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “For years we’ve required airlines to inform consumers about codesharing arrangements, and we’ll be monitoring the industry closely to make sure they comply with the provisions of the new legislation.”
The new law makes it clear that when a consumer requests an airline itinerary on the Internet, any codeshare arrangement must be included on the same screen and next to the itinerary. Currently, codesharing on some websites is being disclosed only indirectly, through a hyperlink or when one passes the cursor over a link, according to the DOT.
Under the DOT’s existing rules, codeshare disclosure must include the corporate name of the transporting carrier and any other name under which the flight is offered to the public.
Before instituting enforcement action, the DOT’s Aviation Enforcement Office (AEO) is giving airlines and ticket agents 60 days to bring websites that are now using links to indicate codeshare disclosure into compliance with the law. In the meantime, the DOT says the AEO will continue to enforce other aspects of the current rules aggressively, as it has in the past.
According to the DOT, its new guidance also reminds airlines that they are responsible for the compliance of their ticket agents. Airlines must make clear to ticket agents which provide Internet ticket-sales software to travel agents that the agents must ensure the software is in compliance with the DOT’s rules, including the codeshare disclosure requirements.
If airlines and ticket agents do not make sure that ticket-sales software meets the DOT’s codeshare-disclosure requirements, they will risk enforcement action, the DOT says.
The notice providing the guidance is available on the Internet at http://airconsumer.dot.gov/rules/guidance.htm.
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