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Feds fine online airline ticketing services

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Federal regulators are going after online ticketing services that fail to tell customers booking a flight on a major airline that a leg of their trip will be operated by a separate regional carrier.

The Department of Transportation said Friday that five ticketing services — Fareportal Inc., American Travel Solutions, AirGorilla, Wholesale Travel Center Inc., and Automobile Club of New York, Inc. — are being fined a combined $175,000 for failing to disclose such “code-sharing” arrangements. Last month, two other services, and Airtrade International Inc., were fined a combined $90,000.

Code-sharing became an issue after a 2009 regional airline crash near Buffalo, N.Y., killing 50 people. Passengers booked flights on Continental Airlines with the Buffalo leg described as on “Continental Connection.” The flight was actually operated by Colgan Air.