The OFT's move is a welcome one. Travel providers are among the worst offenders when it comes to hiding mandatory fees until the last minute.
Ryanair Holdings Plc, EasyJet Plc are among low-cost airlines that have begun including debit-card surcharges in their headline ticket prices following a probe by the U.K.’s Office of Fair Trading.
Twelve carriers, mostly discount operators but including Deutsche Lufthansa SA, complied with an OFT ruling, according to a statement from the regulator, which reckons card fees cost British passengers 300 million pounds ($467 million) a year.
“This is a great outcome for the millions of people who buy flights online,” OFT Chief Executive Officer Clive Maxwell 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. Otherwise it is harder for them to shop around.”
Airlines including Aer Lingus Group Plc and tour operator Thomas Cook are switching policy after the OFT said debit-card fees were the online equivalent of cash and should be included in ticket prices. While carriers can still charge for credit cards, which can be more costly, the process must be transparent and fees should appear before the end of the booking process.
Ryanair, Europe’s biggest discount airline, charged a 12- pound “administration fee” for using a debit card to buy a return ticket online when the probe started last year in response to an investigation by consumer-rights group Which?