AirTran fined for deceptive advertising

AirTran Airways has been fined $60,000 for deceptive advertising of airfares, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The DOT said AirTran advertised $59 one-way fares on websites in fall 2011, noting that additional taxes and fees would apply but with no information on the type or amount of taxes and fees. A link took consumers to a Web page listing routes and prices, but they would have to scroll down to the bottom of the page to see details of taxes and fees in fine print, according to the agency.

The DOT said airline taxes and fees must be disclosed in the ad or include a "prominent link" that connects directly to information on the type and amount of taxes.

Southwest Airlines, which acquired AirTran last year, said AirTran published the advertisement in good faith, "believing it to be in substantial compliance," and that the ad did not lead to any consumer complaints. The airline said its only violation of DOT policy was that the information on taxes and fees was at the bottom of the page, requiring consumers to scroll down.

When alerted to the potential violation, AirTran "took immediate action" to fully comply, according to the airline. Southwest said the AirTran ad was not "properly vetted" by Southwest and that it now subjects all AirTran ads to Southwest standards.