Aviation News

April 29, 2010

Southwest Fined $200,000 for Bumping Passengers

Southwest 737-700 (N462WN) landing at LAX. (Photo by Eric Dunetz)

The U.S. Department of Transportation on Tuesday fined Southwest Airlines $200,000 for violating rules on bumping passengers from oversold flights. The DOT studied complaints from passengers and found that Southwest had failed to promptly pay bumped passengers and give them written notices of their rights.

In 2009, Southwest bumped 13,113 passengers which is 80% more than the closest carrier, though that in and of itself is not the problem: Southwest also carried the most domestic passengers last year. The issue is carriers are required by the DOT to give bumped passengers a notice detailing their rights and how airlines decide who gets bumped when flights are oversold. Passengers can be offered travel vouchers, but only after they have been informed that they can get cash or a check for the amount they are owed.

The DOT said it will waive $90,000 of the penalty if Southwest does not commit any further violations in the next 12 months. Southwest has said they are improving on internal procedures to ensure that they are in compliance.



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