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Southwest Airlines Fined $200K for Ads Touting Seatless $59 Flights

Image: Southwest Airlines Fined $200K for Ads Touting Seatless $59 Flights

By Newsmax Wires   |   Friday, 30 May 2014 10:11 AM

TV ads for $59 flights when there were no seats available have earned Southwest Airlines a $200,000 from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The  TV ads last October promised flights from Atlanta to New York, Chicago and Los Angeles for just $59, but Southwest didn't make any seats available at that price, according to the government, which said the ads were deceptive and violated rules on advertising of airline fares.

Southwest was also required to pay an extra $100,000 that had been suspended after a similar offense last year.

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The Transportation Department said airlines have long known that as part of rules governing fare advertising they must have a "reasonable number" of seats available at the advertised price. In October, Southwest ran ads 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 department said it checked and found that Southwest had no seats for $59 to those three cities on any of the travel dates listed in the ad.

Southwest said that it was all a mistake — that those three cities were never intended to be part of the Atlanta fare sale but wound up in the advertisement after a flawed review of the ad copy.

"As soon as we became aware of our mistake, we pulled all incorrect advertisements off the air," said spokesman Brad Hawkins.

The airline said that it honored the $59 fare to the three cities for consumers who called its reservations center and asked for that price.

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