Orbitz fined $50,000 for failing to clearly disclose baggage fees

Orbitz fined $50,000 for failing to clearly disclose baggage fees
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POSTED: Monday, August 20, 2012 - 4:00pm

UPDATED: Monday, August 20, 2012 - 4:37pm

Online travel company Orbitz was fined $50,000 Monday by the Department of Transportation for failing to properly disclose baggage fees on its website.

In announcing the fine, the DOT said it had ordered Orbitz to immediately fix the problem to avoid further fines. The agency alleged that Orbitz failed to "clearly and prominently" inform travelers about potential baggage fees during the airline ticket purchasing process, and in doing so, violated a new rule intended to make airline fees more transparent.

"The Department adopted its rules on baggage fees to ensure that consumers have complete and accurate information about how much they will have to pay when they book a flight, and we will continue to take enforcement action when carriers and ticket agents fail to comply with our rules," Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood said in a statement.

While admitting that Orbitz did, in fact, post the fees online, Lahood and the DOT took issue with where the notice was placed. The agency alleged that customers were forced to scroll to the bottom of the web page to see the cost of checking their baggage.

Tim Enstice, Orbitz communications manager, told CNN: "As the order acknowledges, we promptly corrected how we displayed airline baggage fee information to be consistent with DOT's preference. We are not aware of any consumer confusion, complaints or deception over this issue, but settled the case to avoid the costs of litigation."

The rule went into place in January and mandates carriers and ticket agents disclose up-front any baggage fees passengers may have to pay in addition to the ticket price.

In June, the DOT fined Mexican airline Volaris $130,000 for violating the same rule.

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