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Focus on Regulation

U.S. Department of Transportation Imposes $250,000 Civil Penalty on British Airways for Violations of Consumer Protection Rules


The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today issued a Consent Order imposing a large civil penalty on British Airways for violations of its consumer protection rules.  DOT Order 2012-10-1   BritishAirwaysConsentOrder

The Department concluded that British Airways had violated Article 17 (damaged/lost baggage) of the Montreal Convention by implementing a policy and tariffs whereby it would not pay compensation for loss, damage or theft of certain items from checked baggage on flights to or from the United States.  It also concluded that the airline had violated Article 19 of the Montreal Convention by establishing limits on reimbursement for incidental expenses to be paid to passengers whose baggage was lost, stolen or delayed.

According to the Department, British Airways also violated a number of the DOT’s original price advertising regulations by failing to provide appropriate disclosure of taxes/government fees in certain email, print, and website advertising, and by failing to include carrier-imposed surcharges in the displayed fare price.  The carrier also purportedly failed to inform consumers with a proper disclosure that the one-way fares required a roundtrip ticket purchase.

For these violations, the Department imposed a civil penalty of $250,000 on British Airways, with ½ suspended and forgiven if British Airways does not violate the cease-and-desist provisions of the Consent Order within the next year.