The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) said today it was fining Southwest Airlines $200,000 for violating federal rules regarding passengers bumped from oversold flights. DOT said in a statement that up to $20,000 of the civil penalty "may be used by the carrier to develop methods beyond what DOT requires to provide prominent notice to passengers of the carrier’s oversales policies and the rights of bumped passengers." The feds have specific compensation rules for passengers involuntarily bumped, and airlines have to give those affected a written statement describing their rights.
The department said its Aviation Enforcement Office’s investigated Southwest’s compliance with the bumping rule, including a review of consumer complaints sent to the carrier and a site inspection at the airline’s headquarters during 2009. "The investigation revealed numerous instances in which Southwest denied boarding to passengers but did not comply with provisions of the bumping rule," the statement said.
No comment yet from Southwest. If we get some, this post will be updated but it will take a day or so, since the Wing Man is traveling the rest of the day.