US fines British Airways $250,000 over fare claims

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is fining British Airways up to $250,000 for advertising fares that didn't fully disclose taxes and fees that passengers must pay.

The Department of Transportation said Monday that the airline promoted award fares online that didn't adequately list taxes and government fees and airline-imposed extras such as fuel surcharges.

The airline must pay $125,000 within 15 days, but will only pay the rest if it violates the rules again in the next year, according to a consent agreement with the Department of Transportation.

The agency said that in one case, travelers who wanted two tickets to London in exchange for signing up for a British Airways credit card weren't told about surcharges of up to $600 per person.

The department said BA also ran many advertisements about one-way fares at prices only available by buying a round-trip ticket. The extra requirement was sometimes in small type below an illustration.

The agency also dinged BA for a policy of not compensating passengers whose cash, jewelry or electronics in checked bags were lost, stolen or damaged. An international treaty makes airlines liable for loss or theft of anything in checked baggage up to about $1,700 per person.

The airline changed its policy in February 2011, but that was after the U.S. government had warned airlines not to deny liability for certain items in checked bags.

The government said BA also declined to reimburse passengers for incidental expenses when their baggage was lost, but said the airline has since fixed that policy.