Airlines must show card booking fees upfront, says OFT

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has successfully pushed for the mandatory disclosure of credit and debit card charges when airlines post their headline prices on flight booking websites.

Twelve airlines, including the biggest no-frills carriers Ryanair and easyJet, will now show the extra charges which usually come at the end of a booking, upfront.
Last summer Monarch Airlines began showing “final” prices on its website after the OFT announced it was intent on introducing the change. Other European airlines which will follow the new rules are Aer Lingus, BMI Baby, Eastern Airways, Flybe, German Wings, Jet2, Lufthansa, Thomas Cook, Thomson and Wizz Air.
EasyJet has already begun advertising prices which now do include its £9 booking charge while Ryanair says it will start to include the £6 per flight administrative fee in ads by 1 August, with “total” upfront fares posted on Ryanair’s own site by 1 December.

OFT head Clive Maxwell 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."

The OFT estimates the cost to consumers of card surcharges on air fares totals approximately £300m each year. The new rules follow a complaint by the consumer group, Which?

"It is good news that debit card surcharges will be displayed in the headline price of flights – as long as the airlines do not use this as an excuse to push up their prices," said Which? chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith.

Which? wants the rules to be broadened to apply to all companies, not just airline websites.

"It is also important that credit card charges are clearly displayed throughout the booking process and the OFT should make sure that all companies are taking these steps, not just airlines," Mr Vicary-Smith added.

The government has announced it is planning to ban excessive debit and credit card charges which may even apply to purchases such as cinema tickets and credit or debit card fees charged by booking agencies.

Gareth Williams, Skyscanner co-founder and CEO, welcomes the move, too. Commenting on the new legislation he said: "Skyscanner has included card charges in the airline prices we show for some time, allowing our users to compare fares more easily.”

"We believe it’s important that pricing is as transparent as possible so that consumers are aware of the true cost of their flight. It is great that these 12 airlines will now be incorporating card charges into their pricing and we hope other airlines will follow suit."

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