The U.S. Department of Transportation said Friday it fined United Airlines $350,000 for failing to make prompt refunds to consumers.
The Department cited the Chicago-based airline for filing inaccurate reports of its mishandled baggage and oversales, and failing to file timely reports of incidents involving animals in flight.
“When passengers are owed a refund, they have the right to expect the airline to act promptly and give them their money back,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. “We also expect airlines to file accurate and timely consumer reports so that passengers will have the information they need when choosing an airline.”
Airlines are required to process refund requests within seven days when the ticket is purchased by credit card and within 20 days when the ticket is purchased by cash or check, according to the DOT.
But during an on-site inspection at the airline’s headquarters between March and May of 2012, the DOT alleged United failed to process over 9,000 refund requests in a timely manner.
“We are committed to providing our customers the level of service they deserve and processing refunds in a timely manner and have since resolved these issues,” a United spokesman said in a statement.
The DOT also accused United of underreporting the number of mishandled baggage reports it received from passengers between January and October 2011 and the number of passengers it bumped for each quarter of 2011.
“The underreporting made United’s ranking in these categories seem better than it actually was,” a DOT spokesman said in a statement.
In addition, during 2012 and 2013, the DOT said United failed to file timely reports for a few incidents involving the death, injury or loss of animals on its flights.
The DOT did not fine United for the reporting violations because they disclosed the errors to the DOT and took corrective action, according to the department.