LONDON - Following enforcement by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), the U.K. consumer protection group, 12 airlines have agreed to include debit card fees in the headline price rather than show the fees at the end of the booking process.
The OFT€™s actions stemmed from concern that consumers were being misled about the level and/or the existence of payment card fees. The airlines under investigation were charging consumers an additional fee for paying with a debit card, which was not included in the headline price, and/or were not presenting their credit card charges in a clear and transparent manner. The OFT believed that these practices made it difficult for consumers to compare prices easily, damaged consumer confidence and impeded effective competition.
The 12 airlines subject to OFT€™s consumer law investigation are Aer Lingus, BMI Baby, Eastern Airways, easyJet, Flybe, German Wings, Jet2, Lufthansa, Ryanair, Thomas Cook, Thomson (TUI) and Wizz Air.
Clive Maxwell, CEO 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.
"Because of our enforcement action, most airlines have already made their headline prices and other payment charges easier to understand by changing their systems and processes. The rest will complete changes in the coming months. We made it clear from the start that we would use all of our enforcement powers, including court action if necessary, but are pleased to have reached agreement with the airlines before court proceedings were required."