|Photo of LaHood by Ray Morrow|
The crusading head of the US Department of Transportation recently made another sally in the battle for truth, justice and the American way. No, really. The DOT has fined American Airlines $90,000 for using deceptive practices to persuade passengers to give up their seats on overbooked planes.
Its a long overdue move. The agency contends, rightly, that giving out vouchers for being bumped, without disclosing all of the hassles and fees associated with the vouchers, is an unethical business practice.
So what have been those fees and hassles? The inability to use the vouchers to book online; the necessity of mailing in the vouchers three weeks prior to travel; and fees as high as $30 to use the darn things. In effect, American has been getting passengers to help them out of sticky overbooking situations, and then making it very, very difficult for them to collect on their promised rewards.
Let's hope that this move scares the other airlines straight. Right now, there are far, far too many hidden fees associated with air travel.