Protecting airline consumers against unfair and deceptive practices is an important part of the Department Of Transportation's mission. So, hats-off to our Aviation Enforcement Office for doing just that.
Today, based on the Enforcement Office's findings, DOT fined Spirit Airlines $375,000 for various rule violations. This civil penalty is a record for these kinds of violations. The message should be clear:
We will continue to take enforcement action when airlines violate our rules.
Spirit bumped passengers from oversold flights but did not provide compensation or a written notice of passengers' rights to compensation--as required by DOT rules protecting consumers.
Spirit also failed to resolve baggage claims within a reasonable time. In one case, they took 14 months to provide traveler compensation. The airline provided compensation only for baggage on the outbound leg of round-trip flights. And, the airline refused to accept responsibility for missing laptops and other items Spirit had accepted as baggage.
Spirit also violated DOT rules requiring airfare ads to state the full price to be paid. The fares advertised omitted fees Spirit tacked onto base fares.
Spirit violated several other DOT consumer-protection rules, all-in-all leading to Enforcement Office review of complaints filed by consumers, inspections at airports, and a review of Spirit's records. The Office will follow-up its investigation in the coming year.
This kind of treatment of America's airline customers is not just a violation of rules; it's unacceptable. This DOT says passengers deserve better, and they will receive better.