updated 7/9/2009 5:30:42 PM ET 2009-07-09T21:30:42

The U.S. Department of Transportation on Thursday issued a $80,000 penalty against United Airlines for failing to tell customers that the flights they were traveling on were operated by another carrier.

The flights were operated under a code-sharing deal, in which a carrier sells tickets on flights that use its coding but are operated by a separate airline. DOT rules require airlines disclose that information to consumers before they book a flight.

DOT discovered the problem at United when it made calls to United's reservations line to determine if the carrier's employees were advising consumers of code-sharing arrangements. It found that United's reservations agents failed to disclose code-sharing during a "substantial number" of those calls.

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