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Monday
Jan102011

DOT Forces More Disclosure by Regional Airlines

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The federal government is cracking down on airlines and third-party ticketing sites that make it difficult for travelers to decipher who is really flying their plane.

The U.S. Department of Transportation's Aviation Enforcement Office announced Monday it is giving airlines and online ticket agents 60 days to modify websites to make it easier for travelers to learn if their flight is being flown by a large airline like Continental or Delta or a smaller regional airline operating under the mainline carrier's banner.

Under code-sharing, an airline sells tickets on flights that use the airline's code, but are actually operated by a different carrier. Longstanding DOT rules require airlines to disclose code-sharing arrangements to consumers before they book a flight, but legislation adopted in August 2010 has also clarified the requirements for Internet websites that sell airline tickets.

"When passengers buy an airline ticket, they have the right to know which airline will be operating their flight," U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. "For years we've required airlines to inform consumers about code-sharing arrangements, and we'll be monitoring the industry closely to make sure they comply with the provisions of the new legislation."

Federal law requires airlines and independent booking sites to disclose upfront when a flight is operated by somebody else, like a regional airline. But many sites never disclose the name of the actual airline or require several clicks to learn the identity.

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