Airport International News - July 2012
Airlines Agree to Debit Card Charge Pricing Inclusion
Posted by Jack Beresford - Airport International News Reporter on 05/07/2012 - 00:05:00
Debit card charges will now be included in the headline prices of flights sold online with Lufthansa and eleven other airlines, as part of new transparency measures.
Previously, these additional surcharges were not made apparent to consumers until they reached the final stages of the booking process.
However, new enforcement action implemented by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) will ensure that from now on these firms will be required to make any charges for the use of credit cards in online purchases clear in the early stages of the booking process.
Debit Card Flight Charges Included
It follows a lengthy investigation into the practice, which began in June last year, when the OFT responded to a super-complaint from Which? amid concerns that the use of card surcharges was becoming alarmingly prevalent among airlines.
Figures produced by the OFT estimate that as much as £300 million is generated every year through card surcharges on airfares – a hefty cost to consumers in the current economy.
Aer Lingus, BMI Baby, Eastern Airways, Easyjet, Flybe, German Wings, Jet2, Ryanair, Thomas Cook, Thomson and Wizz Air have agreed to introduce the changes to their pricing structures, websites and marketing materials agreed following the investigation.
However it is the inclusion of Lufthansa – Europe's largest airline in terms of passenger numbers and fleet size – that represents the biggest addition to the agreement.
Debit Card Charge Pricing Inclusion
They join Monarch, who moved to change its online purchasing process last year, in implementing the changes. Other airlines will change their advertising practices by August 1st and complete further changes in the coming months.
The OFT was keen to stress that airlines were still allowed to impose surcharges for credit card use, but the alterations would ensure prices were more transparent with no nasty surprises sprung on consumers in the process.
Commenting on the ruling, Clive Maxwell, the head of the OFT, said: "This is a great outcome for the millions of people who buy flights online.
"It is important that the cost presented when they search for a flight is realistic and that they are not surprised by extra charges. Otherwise it is harder for them to shop around for the best deal."
The ruling could be the first of many introduced to combat the growing concern over excessive debit and credit card charges. Earlier this year, the government announced plans for new legislation to combat the practice among retailers online.
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