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Feds hand down biggest fine for violating fare advertising rules

The U.S. Department of Transportation issued the biggest fine Tuesday for violation of full fare disclosure rules against a Brazilian airline.

The Rio de Janeiro-based airline GOL was ordered to pay $250,000 for violating rules adopted in 2011 to ensure passengers know the full cost of their tickets, including fees and taxes, before buying tickets.

The airline also violated Department of Transportation rules that require foreign and domestic carriers to post a contingency plan for handling lengthy delays on an airport tarmac.

GOL's U.S. website launched in November 2012 without displaying the full fares, including taxes and fees, as required by DOT rules, among other violations, the federal agency said.

“We adopted these rules to ensure that passengers are treated with respect when they buy a ticket or board a plane,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “We will not tolerate disregard of our rules and will take enforcement action when necessary to protect travelers.”

In a consent order signed by the airline, GOL said its website did not conform to the DOT's rules but insisted that customers could see the full fare -- including taxes and fees -- before buying a ticket.

Plus, the airline argues that it has received no complaints about its website from customers.

The previous high fine for violation of fare advertising rules was $130,000 against the Mexican airline Volar in June 2012.

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