US DOT officials have slapped a $200,000 civil penalty against Southwest Airlines on behalf of passengers who were denied boarding on oversold flights.
In addition, the carrier has been ordered to "cease and desist from further violations".
The DOT requires airlines to seek volunteers to give up their seats for compensation when a flight is oversold. If not enough volunteers accept the offer and passengers must be bumped, a carrier is required to give those passengers a written statement of their rights and explain who will be bumped from oversold flights. Normally, passengers who are denied boarding are also entitled to cash compensation of up to $800.
The DOT's decision followed an investigation of Southwest's compliance with the bumping rule and a review of consumer complaints.