Although many charter companies provide legitimate low-cost travel options, their reliability is far from uniform. Over the past few years, many charter operations have collapsed, leaving consumers in the lurch -- and some that are still in business pose financial risks for current customers.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) regulates the manner in which charter operators must handle consumer funds. Among other things, the regulations require charter operators to post a bond or deposit consumer funds in an escrow account. Nonetheless, charter operators have found ways to shirk the rules; they may fail to deposit passenger funds into escrow accounts or divert funds that have already been deposited.