Airlines agree to axe confusing card fees after watchdog probe

Marion Dakers
AIRLINES are to ditch hidden debit card fees next month following an investigation by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).

Twelve companies including Ryanair and Thomas Cook have pledged to declare any extra debit card charges in the headline price of a ticket, abolishing the practice of imposing surprise fees at the end of online transactions.

And the OFT said the firms will make surcharges for credit cards more transparent, after the watchdog spent more than a year investigating consumer complaints about such fees.

“It is important that the cost presented when they search for a flight is realistic and that they are not surprised by extra charges,” said new OFT chief executive Clive Maxwell.

“We made it clear from the start that we would use all of our enforcement powers, including court action if necessary, but are pleased to have reached agreement with the airlines before court proceedings were required.”

He added that a number of firms including EasyJet, Flybe and Thomson have already made changes to their online booking systems, with others set to follow from 1 August.

Ryanair said yesterday it was “pleased to have resolved this issue with the OFT and even with this inclusion, we’ll continue to offer the lowest fares to our passengers”.

The government has announced plans to bring forward new laws that will ban excessive credit and debit card fees across all transactions.