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AirTran Airways has been fined $60,000 by the U.S. Department of Transportation over its deceptive airfare advertisements. The company allegedly violated federal rules when they advertised $59 one-way fares.
The advertisements indicated that additional fees or taxes would apply. It did not include detailed information about these extra costs.
Under current federal law, airlines need to clearly disclose these types of fees in their advertisement. They need to prominently display a link with an online advertisement that takes consumers to an informational page. The page must indicate what fees and taxes will apply.
Per-passenger government taxes and fees do not need to be advertised under federal rules, according to MSNBC.
The rules were put in place to help consumers be more aware of the full price they may end up paying for their flight.
But consumers should also be aware that advertising rules will soon be changing.
Come January 26, airlines will need to include all taxes and government fees in their advertised price. Some airlines -- including AirTran's parent company, Southwest -- are opposed to the new rules.
They believe that it forces airlines to add on fees that inflate advertised prices. A Southwest spokesman said in an email to CNN that they believe this is unfair. Other businesses that sell traditional goods do not need to advertise a final price that includes tax.
The new airfare rules also come with other changes that give consumers more transparency. Airlines will no longer be able to raise prices post-purchase. They also will need to disclose baggage fees on e-ticket confirmations.
AirTran was fined under the old rules. The new rules may result in even more airlines coming under fire for deceptive airfare ads.
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