Some airlines ticket sites still misleading

15th May 2009, Comments 0 comments

The European Commission issued a list of airlines that continues to mislead customers over website ticket prices.

Brussels – The European Commission on Thursday named and shamed airlines including Emirates, Northwest and Aeroflot for failing to address concerns about misleading customers over website ticket prices.

The EU's aviation blacklist for online ticket sales includes another six airlines such as Olympic, Turkish Airlines and Royal Air Maroc which failed to respond to the commission's 18-month crackdown into misleading claims on airline and air ticket websites in 15 EU countries plus Norway.

"This is not just a signal that they have some problems, it is a signal that these companies do not care too much to reply to the consumers' concerns," EU Consumer Protection Commissioner Meglena Juneva told a press conference.

Major carriers Air France-KLM and British Airways narrowly avoided being put on the blacklist by getting in touch with the Brussels authorities earlier Thursday before the announcement was made to reporters.

Three others – Germanwings, Niki and SkyEurope – were said to have engaged in constructive dialogue with the commission "but there are still outstanding issues."

Kuneva welcomed these late communications and the fact that the situation for consumers had improved greatly over the past two years.

"Airlines that didn't even want to talk to us two years ago are now entering into constructive dialogue ... The clear message from the airline industry is that they want a level playing field."

As a result of an EU "enforcement investigation" started in September 2007, 115 airline websites out of the 137 investigated have been corrected.

Following an additional "health check" in March on 67 major airlines, 52 were given a "clean bill of health" – either immediately remedying any problems or promising to do so, the European Commission said.

Among the points consumers still need to look out for are unclear price information, whereby extra non-optional charges are added throughout the booking process, sometimes at the end.

There can also be problems with availability of an eye-catching offer – one which may not have been really available in the first place.

Other problems can include contract terms written in a different language, prices given in an unfamiliar currency and no indication of how to contact the website making the offer.

Iberia, SAS and TAP, Finnair, Air Malta and Tarom were among those getting a clean bill of health from Brussels.

Lufthansa, Alitalia, Aer Lingus, Austrian Airlines, Lot, Brussels Airlines, Swiss, Ryanair and Easyjet were on a list of those which have promised to correct existing problems.

While welcoming the improvements, Kuneva stressed that "we do not take anything for granted.

"We will watch carefully what happens next but I think it is a very positive sign for the future," she said.

The European Commission hopes all companies involved will put their websites straight, or at least commit to doing so, by the end of June, after which remedial measures could be taken.

AFP / Expatica

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