Earlier this year, following pressure from the OFT, 12 airlines – including Easyjet and Ryanair – agreed to include debit card charges in their headline prices, rather than adding them at the end of the booking process.
The OFT’s recommendations followed a “super-complaint” by the consumer magazine Which?
But Andrew Strong, the managing director of Flybe, said airlines were still misleading customers, and singled out easyjet and Aer Lingus for particular criticism.
“It’s a total shambles,” said Mr Strong. “Some of Europe’s largest airlines, with the most powerful IT departments, are being allowed to continue to blatantly abuse the process.
“Consumers are being duped into thinking that there is some sort of level playing field when comparing ticket prices. Media reports that airlines have become ‘transparent’ in their ticket pricing are false. They ignore the fact that several leading airlines are still continuing to charge for debit card payments.”
Although Flybe charges customers £11 each time they make a booking with a credit card, since April it has not charged those who pay with a debit card.
Easyjet claims it “does not have any debit card charges”, although passengers who use a debit card must pay an “admin fee” of £9, while those who book with credit card must pay an additional £14. It currently doesn’t include either fee in its headline price – instead “fees and charges may apply” can be found the small print – but it says this will be amended in December.
A spokesman said: “In January easyJet made a series of changes which removed debit card charges and ensured that the airline’s admin fee, which is charged per booking, is included in the price offered in all advertising and from the first stage of the booking process. These changes were welcomed by both Which? and the OFT.”
“On 1 December 2012 easyJet will be making further enhancements to ensure our admin fee is included in all grid prices making our pricing even more transparent.”
Similarly, Aer Lingus adds a £6 per person “admin fee” to debit card payments, and although this is outlined in its small print, it is not included in the initial fares. Flybe claims that Aer Lingus agreed to drop debit card charge entirely from October 1.