U.S Department Of Transportation Fines Virgin Atlantic For Misclassifying Fuel Surcharges As Taxes

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The U.S. Department of Transportation yesterday fined Virgin Atlantic for misclassifying fuel surcharges as taxes on award tickets back in 2014.

Virgin Atlantic DOT Fine

The airline had not disclosed on the award page intended to the US audience that the “taxes” also included non-tax items such as fuel surcharges that the airline retains. Virgin Atlantic was fined $30,000 of which it needs to pay only half unless it violates the rule again.

You can access the DOT’s web page for the consent order here:

Download (PDF, 189KB)

Conclusion

DOT really should start adding at least couple of zeroes for these fines that it assess. The $15,000 fine that the airline was assessed is not really a deterrent.

I wish that all the governments would ban these fuel surcharges once and for all. There are no other excuses to still have them than to mislead the public (in some markets base fares before surcharges can still be advertised) and collect them on award tickets.

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