The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has unveiled a new online tool allowing travellers to compare optional fees and charges levied by airlines.

The move fits with the coalition government’s view that the CAA should do more to protect the interests of the consumer and airlines have been told they are expected to be more upfront about their charging policies.

The summary of the charges has gone live in time for the peak holiday booking period to give consumers transparency so they can choose the flight most suited to them, the CAA said.

Information included ranges from the cost of taking hold luggage on board, having an in-flight meal and reserving specific seats plus other optional extras.

Andrew Haines, chief executive of the CAA said: “The diversity of UK aviation offers excellent choice and value to UK consumers with airlines adopting various business models.

“To really benefit from that choice consumers want to know the full price picture. For some passengers and airlines the headline ticket price will be the most expensive part of the booking, while for others the impact of optional fees and charges can change their view of the best overall price.

“Our table allows passengers to easily compare the optional fees that airlines charge and it’s important to consider those charges alongside the ticket price and the extra charges that could be applied before making their booking.”

Transport Secretary Justine Greening added: “Consumers want to know that the price on the label is what they’ll end up paying. But many air tickets seem to come with unexpected charges for everything from choosing a seat to just ‘booking’ the ticket.

“I hope this new information from the CAA will help, which is why we are legislating to give the CAA even more powers to ensure transparency for consumers. Ultimately, however, it’s time that airlines were far clearer cut with passengers about these add-on charges in the first place.”

As well as the new fees and charges comparison table the CAA has also created the Passenger Portal, an online advice and information resource and it will soon publish advice for consumers about what to be aware of in booking terms and conditions.

The authority says it is also working closely with airline to ensure they comply with rules that compel them to include all unavoidable charges in the price displayed in the booking process.