A prominent Twin Cities travel agency was fined $125,000 Tuesday by the federal government because its agents identified to prospective travelers only the name of the airline marketing the flight and not the name of carrier actually operating the flight.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) fined Carlson Wagonlit Travel and Frosch International Travel, with the latter amounting to $65,000.
The DOT also ordered both companies to halt the practice.
The agency said the consent orders, which the companies agreed to abide by, are part of its effort to ensure that ticket agents comply with code-share disclosure rules.
“No one wants to arrive to their gate and learn for the first time that the airline they thought was operating their flight actually sold them a ticket for another airline,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement.
Under code-sharing, an airline sells seats on flights using its designator code, but the flights are operated by a separate airline.
In a statement, Minnetonka-based Carlson Wagonlit Travel said, “CWT has worked closely with the DOT to implement protocol to ensure this will not happen again. There is no impact to the flight options offered to CWT travelers.”
A spokesman for Houston-based Frosch International Travel was not immediately available for comment.
According to the DOT, the agency’s Aviation Enforcement Office made telephone calls to a number of agents during January and February of 2013 and inquired about booking certain flights. During those calls, the reservations agents for both companies failed to disclose that the flights were being operated under code-share arrangements.
The agents identified only the name of the airline marketing the flight and not the name of the airline operating the flight, according to the DOT. This violated DOT rules requiring airlines and ticket agents to inform consumers if a flight is operated under a code-share arrangement, as well as disclose the corporate name of the transporting airline and any other name under which the flight is offered to the public.
DOT has now issued six fines for code-sharing violations this year, totaling $430,000.
Staff writer David Phelps contributed to this report.