The U.S. Department of Transportation today fined Air France $85,000 for violating the department's full-fare advertising rules and ordered the carrier to cease and desist from further violations.
"Consumers deserve fair treatment from airlines when it comes to price advertising, including up-front disclosure of taxes and fees they must pay in order to fly," U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said. "We want to make sure airlines treat their customers with the respect they deserve."
DOT's Aviation Enforcement Office found that Air France violated the Department's price advertising rule that requires carriers to inform consumers of the total price, including all taxes and fees. Although Air France promised to redeem loyalty program miles for tickets, it initially hid from frequent fliers the monetary amount that they were still required to pay which covered not only government taxes, but also substantial fees Air France chose to label as "fuel surcharges" that were included under a heading described as "taxes." Those fees could amount to more than half the price of certain purchased coach tickets. This was unfair and misleading to consumers.
Today's penalty follows a notice issued by the Enforcement Office on February 21, 2012, reminding carriers that if they choose to provide a description of taxes and carrier-imposed fees, that description must be accurate and must distinguish between taxes and government-imposed fees on the one hand and carrier-imposed fees on the other.