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Office of Fair Trading forces airlines into debit card climb down

Office of Fair Trading forces airlines into debit card climb down

Following Office of Fair Trading enforcement action, 12 airlines operating in the UK have agreed to include debit card surcharges in the headline price of tickets.

The move is designed to end surprise increases in price at the end of the booking process common online when booking with many carriers.

Any surcharges for paying by credit card will also be easy to find when booking online, the OFT said.

Aer Lingus, BMI Baby, Eastern Airways, easyJet, Flybe, German Wings, Jet2, Lufthansa, Ryanair, Thomas Cook, Thomson (TUI) and Wizz Air were subject to an OFT consumer law investigation and have agreed to change their practices.

The OFT believes people should not have to incur surcharges to use a debit card online.

Debit cards are the online equivalent of cash which means that headline prices should be the price people can pay.

The OFT believes traders may still impose surcharges for credit cards, which can be more costly to process.

However, it is critical that these charges are transparent and not sprung on shoppers towards the end of the booking process. As part of the OFT’s enforcement action the airlines agreed to make surcharges for credit cards more transparent so that these charges will be clearer and easier to find during the booking process.

Following recommendations from the OFT last year, the Government has also announced plans to bring forward legislation to ban excessive debit and credit card surcharges across the UK economy.

The OFT estimated that debit and credit card surcharging in the airlines sector cost consumers £300 million a year.

All airlines have agreed to change their advertising practices by August 1st and fully complete further changes over the coming months.

Clive Maxwell, the OFT’s Chief Executive, 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.”

In June last year, the OFT responded to a super-complaint from Which? and warned the airline industry to change practices or risk enforcement action.