EC to ban bargain air fares online

The European Commission is ready to ban airlines and other travel companies from advertising bargain fares that do not include all non-optional charges, a move that will end the era of the advertised £9.99 fare.

Members of the European Parliament approved the move yesterday following the agreement of EU member governments. All taxes, fees and charges will have to be included in fares from the end of the year.
The move will pull the rest of Europe into line with the UK, where the Office of Fair Trading has overseen a similar regulation since May last year. Travel agents’ and tour operators’ association ABTA has enforced the rule on the travel trade.
However, the OFT has allowed some airlines considerable leeway. Ryanair did not comply with the instruction to include all non-optional charges in fares until February this year.

At the same time, airlines have introduced a range of “optional” charges for items that were previously included in fares – such as charges for baggage and airport check-in – meaning passengers still find it difficult to judge the final cost of a fare from the advertised price.

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