Southwest has been fined again for advertising cheap fares on seats that did not exist. The airline advertised on eight Atlanta stations in which the narrator told viewers, “Discover amazing low sale fares” of $59 “to places like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.” The problem is that, when people went to book the fares, they were told no seats were available.
The airlines insisted that it was simply an oversight and that those cities were not supposed to be part of the offer. However, the $100,000 fine was doubled by the U.S. Department of Transportation because the airlines was suspended after a similar offense last year. The question is how such a small fine truly deters such violations. At $100,000 a pop, an airline could do this intentionally, entice customers in a bait-and-switch, and just pay the fine as a cost of doing business.
Now, to my most recent encounter with the shakedown that customers face every time that they fly. I previously complained in a New York Times article that flying today is like being a guest of the Ferengi as airlines hit customers with fees for everything from bags to seats is a bare minimum of legroom. That image came to mind recently when one of my sons and I were flying on United and ordered the over-priced sandwiches on the flight. It seemed to be at least a reasonable size . . . until we bought them:
It really summed up the approach of airlines today.