mercredi, juillet 19, 2006

Cheap'N'Cheerful Flights

It's over for Brittania tours. And for many others. The festival of erroneous and misleading advertising in the air travel business is facing the final curtain. The dubious business practice of the famous asterisk where a price tag of "From Lm 49" would be footnoted with an asterisk saying "Prices exclusive of taxes, airport charges and fuel tax".

"Under new rules from the European Commission, airlines have to display what customers will actually pay, including all fees. Many airlines advertise rock-bottom prices, but then when passengers book they find that they must pay charges for fuel, baggage handling, tax, insurance, security checks and even wheelchair access. These charges can double the price of a ticket and, in extreme cases, increase them almost a hundred fold."

Speculation was rife that Ryanair was the main target of these new regulations. In fact, booking a flight advertised for 19p on Ryanair could result in a price tag of 15.97 sterling. Ryanair denied this rumour stating that its customers are clearly aware of the factoring in of taxes when booking from its site. I fact, considering that Ryanair booking is made exclusively online I do agree with Ryanair that most customers are aware of the added costs that "bloat" the price up to the 20s of euros instead of the single euro return ticket.

I would say more. The customer of an LCC is also educated enough to know that the price of the trip must also consider coaches /taxis / trains that link peripheral airports to his final destination. I do not think that the Commission rules had Ryanair in mind - although they too will be affected. One must consider that most non-LCC's have a more expensive base price as well as a higher amount of taxes to pay (not fuel wise but in airport taxes and taxes on services). It is therefore logical to assume that it is in their case that these rules will be most effective. Also, most LCCs have websites that seem to be purposely encrypted for giving the least information possible to the customer.

I have in mind SN Brussels Airlines for example. Their site has the particular trait of being able to switch the dates of your booking on the final confirmation page. It might be a design fault... but it smacks of planned trickery. I fell foul of this trick when booking for a group of 8 traveling to Malta. I ended up having over 2000 euros frozen at SN Airlines since their policy of reimbursement for mistaken bookings is to wait for two months.

Want to be really surprised with abusive usage of websites? Try SN Airlines or Lufthansa. I have noticed that all too often a flight which is queried too many times suddenly develops an unexpected price hike. In a matter of hours I have seen flights to Malta go up by 100 euros. And then there is this practice I have seen on Lufthansa. When sitting at the same desk on the same computer you can get four different prices for the same seat on the same flight. The only difference is whether you input your residence as Luxembourg, France, Germany or Belgium in the beginning. Ridiculous. This too will be curtailed by the new Commission rules.

For more information see this news clip on BBC.

1 commentaire:

Hsejjes a dit…
Ce commentaire a été supprimé par un administrateur du blog.