The Office of Fair Trading has announced that it has succeeded in persuading 12 airlines to end the practice of hiding debit card surcharges from consumers booking tickets over the internet. Up until now it has been common practice for a carrier’s booking system to spring a debit card surcharge on customers at the end of the booking process. Airlines will now show any debit card surcharge in the headline ticket price so that customers know exactly how much they are required to pay as soon as they start looking for a flight.
The airlines have also agreed to make the booking process more transparent for those using credit cards. However, surcharges are still likely to apply as credit cards are often more costly to process than debit cards.
OFT chief executive, Clive Maxwell, said the watchdog had made it very clear to airlines at the beginning of its consumer law investigation that it would be prepared to resort to the courts if necessary. He added that he was pleased that this had not been necessary.
The airlines which have agreed to change the way in which tickets are booked with a debit card include Flybe, easyJet, Bmi Baby, Ryanair, Aer Lingus, Eastern Airways, Lufthansa, Jet2, German Wings, Thomson, Thomas Cook and Wizz Air.
Peter Vicary-Smith, chief executive of Which? said the campaign to bring and end to excessive surcharges had be supported by more than 50,000 people and that he was pleased that extra charges would now be included in headline prices.