The U.S. Department of Transportation today fined Southwest Airlines $200,000 for violating the Department's full-fare advertising rules and ordered the carrier to cease and desist from further violations.
"Consumers should be able to trust that the price they see advertised is the price they'll pay for a seat," U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said. "DOT will continue to take enforcement action against carriers and ticket agents when our price advertising rules are violated."
DOT's Aviation Enforcement Office found that Southwest advertised one-way, nonstop fares "for $100 or less" for travel on Feb. 14, 2013, but failed to include a reasonable number of seats available in a significant number of city-pair markets in the fare sale. In addition, on Jan. 30, 2013, Southwest advertised $66 one-way fares from Dallas Love Field to Branson, Mo., between March 1, 2013, and March 21, 2013. However, there were no seats available at the sale fare on any day during the sale period.
By advertising fares for which a reasonable number of seats were not available and advertising fares that were not available at all, Southwest violated the full fare advertising rule and engaged in prohibited unfair and deceptive practices.