American Airlines Fined Over “Bumped” Passenger Charges

DALLAS (AP) – The government fined American Airlines for failing to tell passengers it would cost up to $30 to redeem vouchers they got for giving up seats on oversold flights.

American stopped charging the fees late last year. It agreed to pay half the $90,000 fine, and the other half will be waived if the airline complies with federal rules on the vouchers for one year.

American issues about 250 such vouchers every day. The Transportation Department said Monday it’s the first time the government has fined an airline for failing to disclose fees to use the vouchers.

Airlines are allowed to oversell flights on the theory that some passengers won’t show up. When there are too many ticketed passengers, airlines must ask for volunteers to give up their seats before bumping people who don’t want to get off the plane. Airlines must compensate bumped passengers.

When passengers tried to cash in the vouchers, they were charged a standard American Airlines fee for buying tickets over the phone or at the airport. Unlike tickets, which can be bought over the Internet, American did not allow vouchers to be redeemed online.

“There’s no way of getting out of paying that fee if they want to redeem” the vouchers, said Transportation Department spokesman Bill Mosley.

American spokesman Tim Smith said the airline stopped charging passengers to redeem the vouchers over the phone in 2007 and at airport ticket counters last year. He said the airline removed the fee before the government complained.

American still doesn’t allow customers to redeem the vouchers online, much as it doesn’t allow customers to pay bag-checking fees online — they are typically collected at the airport before the flight.

American is a unit of Fort Worth-based AMR Corp., the nation’s third-largest airline company.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


One Comment

  1. Robin says:

    guess I didnt know this..

  2. neverflyamericanagain says:

    Worst airline out there. Fly another airline if at all possible.

  3. darrell says:

    why should someone have to pay an additional fee to get a new seat because the airline overbooked the flight? thats like ordering a pizza and paying $30 with a credit card to find out they messed up the order when they get to your house. but they will fix it for an aditional $10.00 and they leave with your pizza.

  4. Michael Phillips says:

    Worst airline in the US. Customer service is priority ZERO, unless you are a multi-million mile member flying in first class.
    I know they are having labor issues, but it shouldn’t be taken out on paying customers. Lose the attitude American Crew. We have choices, and I’ve started making mine.

  5. quitwhinning says:

    Once I was a Million mile American flyer, now I’m a zero mile American flyer. I just drive now since I’m retired. It’s more fun even if it’s all the way to Canada.

  6. Mindy Dill says:

    ????Why should a regular paying customer who originally had reservations, checked in on-time for a boarding pass (probably a frequent flyer too), be PENALIZED for “voluntarily” giving up his seat, (YOU were asking for volunteers), so you could accomodate for another customer, (was nice of him to VOLUNTEER, this saved someone from being “forced” to give up “their” seat, which is a GOOD thing). They paid for their ticket, you gve them certain amount of $$ for giving up their seat…….Then you turn right around and DEDUCT A FEE OF $30.00 for NO LOGCAL REASON, for cashing his “tickets, voucher, etc.

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