Airlines to end surprise debit card surcharges

Twelve airlines – including easyJet and Ryanair – will no longer spring last-minute fees on customers paying by debit card, the consumer watchdog revealed.

The carriers have agreed to include debit card surcharges in the headline ticket price rather than surprise consumers at the end of the booking process, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) said.

The airlines also agreed to make surcharges for credit cards more transparent so these fees will be clearer and easier to find during the booking process, the OFT added.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

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.

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

The Government has also announced plans to bring forward legislation to ban excessive debit and credit card surcharges, which cost consumers £300m a year from the airline sector.

The OFT said people should not have to incur surcharges to use a debit card online as they are the “online equivalent of cash” which means that headline prices should be the price people can pay.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

However, the OFT said traders may still impose surcharges for credit cards, which can be more costly to process.

Eastern Airways, easyJet, Flybe, German Wings, Lufthansa, Thomas Cook, Thomson (TUI) and Wizz Air have already made changes to their pricing structures, websites and marketing materials.

Other airlines will change their advertising practices by August 1.

Mr Maxwell continued: “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.”

The watchdog launched an investigation after a super-complaint from consumer body Which? highlighted anger about the widespread use of surcharges.