Government Cracks Down on Codeshare Disclosure

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The Department of Transportation (DOT) today issued guidance for airlines and ticket sellers about codeshare disclosure requirements.

"When passengers buy an airline ticket, they have the right to know which airline will be operating their flight," U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. "For years we’ve required airlines to inform consumers about code-sharing arrangements, and we’ll be monitoring the industry closely to make sure they comply with the provisions of the new legislation."

The DOT said rules have been in place requiring airlines to disclose this information, but new legislation issued in August 2010 has "clarified" those rules.

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"The new law makes it clear that when a consumer requests an airline itinerary on the Internet, any code-sharing arrangement must be included on the same screen and next to the itinerary.  Currently, codesharing on some websites is being disclosed through a hyperlink or when one passes the cursor over a link. Under the existing Department rules, codeshare disclosure must include the corporate name of the transporting carrier and any other name under which the flight is offered to the public."

The issue of codeshares was thrown into the spotlight with the crash of Colgan Flight 3407, which was flown under the Continental flag. The investigation of the crash highlighted the often murky relationship between regional carriers and their major airline partners. Passengers often do not know or realize their flight is not being operated by the major carrier, and many regional planes are outfitted with the major airline's livery.

Airlines and ticket sellers have 60 days to comply with DOT's guidance.

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