Passengers are in danger of becoming confused about how much they will pay when they book a flight online, a consumer watchdog said today.
Some airlines – particularly the low-fare carriers – still do not include taxes, fees and charges (TFCs) in the main fare throughout the booking process, a report from the Air Transport Users Council (AUC) said.
Also, some airlines charge different TFCs on the same route, said the AUC, which called on all carriers to quote fares inclusive of TFCs on their websites.
The AUC report looked at TFCs charged by different airlines serving identical routes.
The report said many airlines, including British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and BMI, now include TFCs in the fare throughout the booking process.
But AUC chairman Tina Tietjen said: ‘We also found that many airlines, particularly budget carriers, continued to separate out TFCs from the main fare.
‘There remains a risk that passengers are not aware that airlines charge different TFCs on a route and therefore might not look at other airlines’ websites to compare fares.’
She added: ‘In addition, passengers now have a further problem in that they must compare prices between those airlines that include TFCs in their prices and those that don’t.
‘The only solution is for all airlines to switch to all-inclusive pricing on their websites.’
Holiday Which? researcher Neil Fazakerley said: ‘Just imagine how annoying it would be if taxes, transport charges, shelf levy and other assorted extras were piled onto your bill when you got to the supermarket till. That’s what happens when you buy a flight where the all-inclusive price isn’t quoted up front. Nobody expects airlines to give you taxes and other fees for free, but we absolutely disagree with the practice of separating them out and only showing customers the full flight price at the end of the booking. Few other sellers break down costs like this, but some in the airline industry continue to see themselves as a special case. The pity is that, even including the charges, flights can still be great value. So why not sell them more honestly?’
The AUC gave these examples of differing TFCs charged by airlines on identical routes:
Route Airline TFCs (return flight)
Stansted to Alicante
Belfast to Ibiza
Birmingham to Aberdeen
BMI Baby £37.90
Newcastle to Krakow
Glasgow to Birmingham
BMI Baby £38.95