The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has issued fines to Air China and FlightHub Group for violating federal statutes and aviation consumer protection rules.
Air China has been fined 300,000 USD for violating the tarmac delay rule at JFK airport, while FlightHub ticket agent has been fined 300,000 USD for online misrepresentations.
“DOT will hold airlines and ticket agents accountable when they treat consumers unfairly. These fines should serve as a warning to all airlines and online ticket agents that the Department will take enforcement action against violations of aviation consumer protection rules.”
The tarmac delay rule prohibits airlines from allowing international flights to remain on the tarmac at US airports for more than four hours without giving passengers an opportunity to leave the plane.
A DOT Office of Aviation Consumer Protection investigation has concluded that two international Air China flights violated this rule in 2018 by remaining on the tarmac for over five hours without allowing passengers to deplane.
In January 2018, an Air China flight from Beijing to JFK remained on the tarmac for five hours and 18 minutes, and in November 2018, an Air China flight from JFK to Beijing sat on the tarmac for five hours and 21 minutes.
The rule prohibiting long tarmac delays for domestic flights took effect in 2010 and was expanded to include international flights in 2011. Air China has consequently been fined for this violation and ordered to avoid any similar future scenarios.
A separate DOT investigation found that FlightHub Group and its brand JustFly.com violated the aviation consumer protection rules and federal law that prohibits deceptive practices through misleading online advertising.
The investigation found that FlightHub Group advertised flight prices that were not available and failed to state the total price in their advertisements. The Office of Aviation Consumer Protection also found that FlightHub Group misrepresented fares, cancellation charges, and fees for checked baggage in their e-ticket confirmations.
The consequential 300,000 USD penalty against Flight Hub Group is the highest civil penalty that the DOT has assessed against a ticket agent.
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