Airlines and travel agents will be prosecuted or even shut down if they make misleading claims about cheap flights and holidays, according to media reports in the UK. (2/12/2007)
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) warned that it would take tough action against companies that fail to advertise the full cost of their trips up front. Consumers are expected to get more accurate information following the warning.
The Association of British Travel Agents’ (Abta) code of conduct requires members to include all fixed non-optional costs in the basic advertised prices of their holidays. However, the OFT said certain costs -- fuel supplements, for example, which can add up to 65 pounds per person to the price of a flight -- were frequently excluded.
“The move also affects budget airline companies such as Ryanair and easyJet, which advertise flights costing 1p or even nothing without adding on tax and other non-optional costs such as fuel duties to their headline fares,” reported telegraph.co.uk. “However, the OFT ruling does not include charges which can be avoided such as baggage fees and in-flight meals.”
It added that the regulator expects companies to clean up their act and change existing advertising within three months. Failure to do so could mean they could be taken to court for breaching consumer protection laws.
Abta welcomed the OFT’s move. The organisation, whose members sell around 90 percent of Britain’s package holidays, said it would remind all its members about the importance of correctly advertising holidays. The organisation pledged to take firm action against any member who fails to comply.
Abta’s chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “We are very supportive of the OFT’s move today, as it should lead to a level playing field within the travel industry.”
The OFT is also reportedly contacting the Federation of Tour Operators, the Association of Independent Tour Operators, the International Air Transport Association and the European Low Fares Airline Association, warning them to ensure their members do not mislead consumers about prices.