By Hugo Martin
Los Angeles Times
6:33 PM EDT, June 26, 2013
The U.S. Department of Transportation has fined Delta Air Lines $750,000 for violating the rules of bumping passengers on overbooked flights.
Under federal rules, airlines must first ask for volunteers to give up their seat before the carrier can deny ticketed passengers a seat on an overbooked plane. The airlines must also compensate passengers who are bumped.
In several instances in March 2012, Delta bumped passengers without first asking for volunteers and without explaining that the bumped passengers had a right to cash compensation, the federal agency said.
In addition, Delta reported to the Department of Transportation that the bumped passengers were volunteers, which violated the passengers' rights to compensation, the agency said.
Delta spokesman Anthony Black called the violations "isolated complaints that reflect the mishandling of some customers in an overselling situation."
He noted that in 2012, the airline carried nearly 104 million passengers but denied seats to only 5,342 ticketed passengers on overbooked flights.
Delta was fined $375,000 for a similar violation of the bumping rules in 2009.
The Department of Transportation said Delta can use $425,000 of the penalty to buy computer tablets to better record passengers' decisions to give up their seats and accept compensation.
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