The DOT says in early 2011 display ads on Orbitz’s homepage didn’t provide taxes and fee information, and consumers could only access that information when navigating to the bottom of another page after clicking on the ad.
In addition, the DOT says Orbitz was advertising discounted fares that were unavailable and transferring consumers to a page where a different fare was presented.
The DOT requires that any air transportation ad with pricing must include the full price that the consumer must pay, including any airline surcharges.
Orbitz says the problems have been resolved.
“Orbitz is in compliance with DOT advertising requirements and the glitch that resulted in how fares were displayed for a short period of time earlier this year has been addressed,” says Chris Chiames, Orbitz spokesman.
The fine against Orbitz is ironic since the online travel agency pioneered the display of total hotel pricing in initial display results.
However, the DOT action against Orbitz may have been the OTA’s first DOT penalty.
New DOT rules become effective Jan. 24, 2012, requiring all airlines and ticket agents to include all government taxes and fees in advertised fares.
In other OTA news, Dollar Thrifty opted to extend its rental car distribution agreement with Orbitz Worldwide through the end of 2014.
Meanwhile,¬†Expedia Inc. says its general counsel, Burke Norton, notified the company Oct. 11 that he has resigned, effective Oct. 28.
Expedia says Norton has been hired by another company.