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U.S. fines Russian airline Aeroflot for violating passenger protection rules

WASHINGTON, D.C. (BNO NEWS) -- The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) on Tuesday fined Russia's largest airline Aeroflot for violating new aviation rules in the United States which require carriers to advertise the full fare and allow customers to hold reservations for 24 hours.

New DOT airline passenger protection rules took effect on January 26 and require both U.S. and foreign airlines as well as ticket agents to advertise the full fare, including government taxes and fees. Previously, airlines and ticket agents were not required to include certain government-imposed taxes as long as these additional charges were clearly disclosed.

But U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said airfare searches on Aeroflot's website after January 26 returned separate listings of base fares for outbound and inbound legs that did not include additional government taxes and fees. The total fare to be charged was ultimately disclosed at the bottom of Aeroflot's website, but the carrier failed to advertise the entire price to be paid by the consumer when a fare was first stated.

LaHood said Aeroflot also violated a new rule which requires airlines to include a commitment in their customer service plans allowing reservations to be held at the quoted fare without payment, or cancelled without penalty, for at least 24 hours after a reservation is made if the reservation is made one week or more before a flight's departure. A customer service plan posted on Aeroflot's website between January 24 and March 13 did not include this commitment.

"Airline passengers should be able to easily determine the full price for air transportation before they travel, and have the opportunity to either reserve a ticket without payment or cancel without penalty for 24 hours," LaHood said in a statement. "DOT will continue to stand up for consumers and take enforcement action when these rules are violated."

The U.S. Department of Transportation said it fined Aeroflot a civil penalty of $60,000 and ordered the carrier to cease and desist from further violations. Aeroflot is the flag carrier and largest airline in Russia, flying millions of people a year to dozens of destinations around the world.

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