Three large U.S. airlines are writing big checks for failing to abide by passenger rights rules.
American, Delta and Frontier Airlines have agreed to pay a total of $850,000 for keeping poor records, delaying refunds, failing to explain the compensation rules for passengers booted off of overbooked planes and failing to provide wheelchairs to disabled fliers in a timely manner.
All three airlines agreed to pay the fines to the U.S. Department of Transportation to avoid litigation arising from allegations that followed audits by DOT investigators.
Denver-based Frontier Airlines agreed to pay $400,000 to resolve charges that the carrier did not call for volunteers to give up their seats before denying seats to fliers on overbooked flights, as required under DOT rules. Frontier also failed to explain to passengers who were booted off the plane their rights to be compensated with cash or checks, the audit found.
An investigation by the DOT also uncovered “a high percentage of instances in which Frontier acknowledged that the carrier failed to provide adequate and timely wheelchair assistance to passengers with disabilities,” according to a DOT report.
Many of the violations took place at Denver International Airport.
In response to the fine, Frontier Airlines said it had updated its procedures and introduced a new reporting system to ensure compliance with DOT rules.
Forth Worth-based American Airlines also agreed to pay $250,000 after auditors found that the airline failed to refund passengers for purchased tickets in a timely manner.
The airline blamed the refund delays in 2015 to a system integration problem that arose with the merger with US Airways.
“Even impacting one customer is one too many and we worked hard to fix the issue even before the department raised it with us,” American Airlines spokeswoman Shannon Gilson said.
Delta Air Lines also agreed to pay a fine of $200,000 for violations in the way it reported the volume of lost or mishandled luggage — an error that erroneously raised Delta’s ranking when compared with other carriers in 2012 and 2013.
In a statement, the Atlanta-based carrier said it updated its policy for recording lost or damaged luggage immediately after the error was discovered by the DOT.