Airline fined over 'bumping' complaints

April 28, 2010 at 7:16 PM
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WASHINGTON, April 28 (UPI) -- Southwest Airlines has been hit with a $200,000 fine for not following Washington guidelines on handling passengers bumped from oversold flights, officials say.

In situations in which flights are overbooked, airlines must seek out volunteers willing to give up their seats. If not enough passengers come forward and carriers involuntarily bump passengers, those taken off the flight must be given a written statement "describing their rights and explaining how it decides who will be bumped from an oversold flight," the Department of Transportation said Tuesday.

In most cases, bumped passengers are entitled to receive up to $800 compensation, the DOT said.

The DOT investigated complaints against Southwest Airlines finding "numerous instances in which Southwest denied boarding to passengers but did not comply with provisions of the bumping rule."

Southwest could allocate $20,000 of the fine "to develop methods beyond what DOT requires to provide prominent notice to passengers of the carrier's oversales policies and the rights of bumped passengers," the DOT said.

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