Following enforcement action by the UK’s Office of Fair Trading (OFT), 12 airlines have agreed to include debit card surcharges in their headline fares, rather than at the end of the booking process.
Aer Lingus, bmi baby, Eastern Airways, easyJet, Flybe, German Wings, Jet2, Lufthansa, Ryanair, Thomas Cook, Thomson (TUI) and Wizz Air were subject to an OFT consumer law investigation, following a complaint from consumer review company Which? in June 2011.
Although traders may still impose surcharges for credit cards, which can be more costly to process, the OFT believes it is: “critical that these charges are transparent and not sprung on shoppers towards the end of the booking process.”
The UK Government has also announced plans to bring forward legislation to ban excessive debit and credit card surcharges across the economy. The OFT has estimated that these surcharges in the airlines sector cost consumers £300 million (US$467.5m) each year.
Eight of the 12 airlines have already made changes to their pricing structures, websites and marketing materials, and the remaining four (Aer Lingus, bmi baby, Jet2 and Ryanair) will change their advertising practices by August 1. Further changes will be made over the following months.
Clive Maxwell, the OFT’s Chief Executive, commented: “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.”