Friday, 11 November 2011

DOT policing the airlines and travel agents on Twitter


DOT policing the airlines and travel agents on Twitter

By Bill Poling
The Transportation Department’s enforcement unit put airlines and travel sellers on notice that some of their tweets and social media postings fail to include the appropriate disclosures about aviation taxes and fees.

In a notice last month, enforcement chief Samuel Podberesky said that even Twitter postings, with their 140-character limit, must comply.

The notice states that if an airfare is mentioned and if any taxes and fees are not included, there must be a hyperlink “adjacent to the stated fare” that “takes the viewer directly to a place on a separate screen where the nature and amount of taxes and fees are prominently and immediately displayed. Likewise, if a roundtrip purchase condition applies to an advertised each-way fare, this must also be disclosed in the tweet.”

He added that links taking the user to “a page or a place on a screen that requires scrolling or further clicking on links to be able to view the explanation of taxes and fees do not comply.”

Under existing rules, travel ads that state an airfare, or a price for a package that includes air, must display the total price to be paid. Certain taxes and fees can be stated separately, provided they comply with the above disclosure rules.

The latest guidance will govern social media advertising until Jan. 24, when a new regulation is slated to take effect.

The new rule, subject to review by the U.S. Court of Appeals, will require all ads and Internet search displays to include all taxes and mandatory fees, including seller-imposed service charges.