TUR­BU­LENCE OVER AIR­LINES' 'ADD ON' FEES

MPs in­ves­ti­gat­ing how com­pa­nies hit pas­sen­gers with ex­tra charges

Costa Blanca News (North Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - By Jack Troughton

GOV­ERN­MENT min­is­ters are in­ves­ti­gat­ing how air­lines make ex­tra cash by hit­ting pas­sen­gers with ‘add on’ charges and how they in­flate the cost of fly­ing.

The British De­part­ment for Trans­port (DfT) fears mil­lions of trav­ellers are be­ing ripped off with hid­den and un­ex­pected charges of­ten im­posed at the last minute.

It is un­der­stood an of­fi­cial in­ves­ti­ga­tion could be launched and air­lines forced to be more trans­par­ent over the price of tick­ets and ex­tra charges such as book­ing and bag­gage fees.

Be­fore the ‘no-frills’ travel revo­lu­tion, air­lines of­fered broadly the same deal; of­ten in­clud­ing a meal, drink and a bag­gage al­lowance

The rise of bud­get air­lines such as easyJet and Ryanair and other car­ri­ers mean ev­ery car­rier has dif­fer­ent poli­cies and costs. A study last year dis­cov­ered 66 of the world’s largest air­lines made £33 bil­lion – over €46 bil­lion – through an­cil­lary rev­enue in­clud­ing fees and in-flight meals; nearly 10% of in­come. Un­der the mi­cro­scope will be add on charges built up dur­ing the book­ing process – in­clud­ing book­ing fees, seat reser­va­tion charges, bag­gage charges and fees for ex­tra leg room. A re­view will also cover more con­tentious charges such as chang­ing names on a book­ing and print­ing board­ing passes. The DfT avi­a­tion strat­egy is to be pub­lished later this year and will in­clude plans to en­sure all charges are clearly vis­i­ble when book­ing al­low­ing for easy com­par­isons to be made across air­lines. It is de­signed to make sure the price seen by pas­sen­gers is the price they pay – and may even rein in charges though ex­ces­sive. Avi­a­tion min­is­ter Baroness Sugg said: “When pas­sen­gers book flights, they can some­times be hit with ad­di­tional charges over and above the orig­i­nal quoted flight cost. “We want to en­sure peo­ple have as much in­for­ma­tion as pos­si­ble when mak­ing de­ci­sions over which flight to book. “We will ex­plore ways to im­prove and en­hance the in­for­ma­tion avail­able, so pas­sen­gers can make wellinformed de­ci­sions be­fore de­cid­ing who to fly with.” Tim Alder­slade, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Air­lines UK, which rep­re­sents British air­lines, said: “Car­ri­ers op­er­ate in a highly com­pet­i­tive, dy­namic and global in­dus­try and of­fer­ing great cus­tomer ser­vice to pas­sen­gers is their num­ber one pri­or­ity. “We are en­gag­ing with the gov­ern­ment on its avi­a­tion strat­egy and look for­ward to the pub­li­ca­tion of a green pa­per later this year, and will re­spond ac­cord­ingly to many of the pol­icy dis­cus­sions, in­clud­ing on charges.” Both Ryanair and easyJet in­sist they have no ‘hid­den charges’ and all op­tional charges and fees were clearly dis­played dur­ing the book­ing process. One air­line ex­ec­u­tive stated: “All our charges are clear...if you don’t like them, don’t book with us.”

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