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Southwest fined for bumping

Southwest Airlines jets on the tarmac at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. (2008 Associated Press file photo)

DOT Consent Order

Southwest Airlines has been fined $200,000 for violating rules on bumping passengers from oversold flights.

The Transportation Department said Tuesday that it reviewed passenger complaints and found many cases of improper bumping.

Airlines are allowed to sell more seats than they have because some passengers don't show up.

Federal rules require airlines to first ask for volunteers who will give up their seat in exchange for compensation. After that, airlines can begin to bump passengers who bought tickets. Most passengers bumped from flights are entitled to up to $800 in cash. Airlines are required to give bumped passengers a written statement detailing their rights and explaining how the airline decides who gets bumped when flights are oversold.

The Transportation Department said Southwest could use $20,000 of the civil penalty to develop ways to notify passengers of the airline's policy on overselling flights and customers' rights.

Southwest did not immediately return a message requesting comment.

-- Associated Press

By Michael Bolden  |  April 27, 2010; 2:04 PM ET
Categories:  Advisories  
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