Airlines include debit card charges in headline price

Debit card The OFT used its enforcement powers to push through the change to air fares

Twelve airlines, including Easyjet and Ryanair, have agreed to include debit card charges in headline prices, rather than adding an additional surcharge at the end of the online booking process.

The move follows enforcement action by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).

The airlines have also agreed to make any charges for credit cards clear in the early stages of booking.

The government is looking at legislation to ensure companies across all sectors follow suit.

The other airlines which agreed to make the changes are Aer Lingus, BMI Baby, Eastern Airways, Flybe, German Wings, Jet2, Lufthansa, Thomas Cook, Thomson and Wizz Air.

Another airline, Monarch, which charges for credit cards but not debit cards, included the charges in headline prices last summer when the OFT first announced its investigation into the airline industry, where it said card surcharges were "particularly prevalent".


Ryanair's £6 per flight administrative fee will be included in advertised prices by 1 August and will be included in the firm's website headline prices by 1 December.

Start Quote

It is important that the cost presented when [passengers] search for a flight is realistic”

End Quote Clive Maxwell OFT

Passengers using Ryanair's cash passport card, which had previously been immune from charges, will be given a discount.

Easyjet is further ahead in the process and was already including its £9 per booking charge in advertised prices, according to the OFT.

Eastern Airways, Easyjet, Flybe, German Wings, Lufthansa, Thomas Cook, Thomson (TUI) and Wizz Air have already made changes to their pricing structures, websites and marketing material.

Other airlines were set to change their advertising practices by 1 August, the OFT said, and complete changes to headline prices over the coming months.


The OFT said airlines could still impose surcharges for credit cards, "which can be a more costly process".

"However, it is critical that these charges are transparent and not sprung on shoppers towards in the end of the booking process," it said.

The head of the OFT, Clive Maxwell, said: "This is a great outcome for the millions of people who buy flights online.

"It is important that the cost presented when they search for a flight is realistic and that they are not surprised by extra charges."

The OFT has estimated the cost to consumers of card surcharges on air fares is £300m a year.

Following a super-complaint about the issue by the consumer group Which?, the OFT secured some voluntary changes in prices by some airlines.

"It is good news that debit card surcharges will be displayed in the headline price of flights - as long as the airlines do not use this as an excuse to push up their prices," said Which? chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith.

"It is also important that credit card charges are clearly displayed throughout the booking process and the OFT should make sure that all companies are taking these steps, not just airlines."

The latest enforcement action came after an investigation into airlines which had not made voluntary changes.

The government has announced it will introduce legislation banning excessive debit and credit card charges across the economy.

This could cover purchases such as cinema tickets and charges imposed by booking agencies and even councils.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 251.

    I find it hard to understand why the Law doesn't force all companies to identify up front the total cost of any purchase...goods or service.

    I was reading an advert yesterday and noticed a little dash (good way to describe it) besides the quoted price, which was in figures about 5 cm high.

    After straining, I worked out it said 'Plus VAT'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 250.

    Good move. Now - can we have it for concert tickets please?

  • rate this

    Comment number 249.

    Scrap the card charges and give us honest prices. What next ? Charges for cleaning the plane afterwards? For the services of the pilot and air stewards ? Card charges are part of their cost of doing business. Pay in cash, and they'd just want extra for handling that. The initial prices they quote are fabricated, and unreal just designed to make things appear cheaper than they really are.

  • rate this

    Comment number 248.

    I don't mind paying the extra money, it costs what it costs, but what I think is a problem is the feeling of being caught out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 247.

    Yup, been stung with this underhanded tactic too.
    Booked a family holiday and paid online using credit card. At no point in the telephone booking or, specifically, the online payment process was a surchagre mentioned. Only after being shown the total price & confirming the purchase was I then informed on the next screen that a 'magical' extra £48 had been added!

  • rate this

    Comment number 246.

    To charge a transaction fee for each person, each way on a flight when the airline only receive one transaction charge from the card company is surely fraudulent.

    Fraudulent means to obtain money by deception.

    The airlines only have one charge. Is this not criminal?

  • rate this

    Comment number 245.

    233 Guardian56

    Oh really get the chip off your shoulder! Hankering after the 70s are you? I remember appalling public services, appalling nationalised industries (British Leyland anyone? GPO?), ridiculous taxes, industrial unrest, complete unaccountability in the NHS, power cuts, 3 day week etc.

    Sharp practice by Ryanair et al needs better regulation. It's not a denunciation of capitalism.

  • rate this

    Comment number 244.

    These airlines have served us well in the past with low fares, but with these underhand charges, and with a euro crisis led mega recession looming both in the UK and european destinations, then my guess is they will all be out business in a couple of years

  • rate this

    Comment number 243.

    Any major and important purchase paid via credit card, and some debit cards, will protect you under the UK Consumer Credit Act.

  • rate this

    Comment number 242.

    Lots of comments about how people should just fly British Airways. Easy enough if you live in London but if you live away from the South East budget airlines are often the only option for direct flights. Also, as someone who can happily travel with hand baggage and check in online, Easyjet are genuinely a lot cheaper even for direct flights. I can't afford to waste £50 just for a free sandwich.

  • rate this

    Comment number 241.

    We moved to going by boat to Ireland 4 years ago and think it's great. The airlines rely on the whingeing Brits doing JUST that, whingeing. They still pay the price instead of telling them to poke it. More fool them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 240.

    Family drove to spain 2yrs ago..saved a fortune..but very tiring..wouldnt want to do it regularly..

  • rate this

    Comment number 239.

    So the airlines have been caught misleading customers but they are allowed to continue to mislead customers until December? Bizarre. Once again big corporations treating customers badly and governments take a light handed approach, just as they have with the banks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 238.

    The cost to the airline is about 35p PER TRANSACTION (not per person) for a debit card and between 1.5% and 2.5% per transaction for a credit card, so quite clearly this is a devious way of increasing profits. I regularly travel to Europe using DFDS Seaways and they don't charge me a penny extra if I book and pay online using a debit card.

  • rate this

    Comment number 237.

    35 years ago I was paying £250 plus for a return flight London to Helsinki. I now pay about £150 including all charges. The cost of flying has come down massively even when all the extra charges are taken into account. The airlines still have to make a profit so stop moaning about a few extra pounds.

  • rate this

    Comment number 236.

    Not sure this has achieved much.
    The fees are not added at the end of the transaction process, but they still have to be paid. A transaction costs an airline approximately 34p in card fees to process, but the consumer is charged £6 per person. Not even per transaction - but £6 per ticket.

  • rate this

    Comment number 235.

    great, now all they have to do is hire staff who treat you with basic decency and they will be perfect airlines

  • rate this

    Comment number 234.

    Have no problem with low price airlines, you pay your money and take your choice. My only gripe is that these 'extra' costs just annoy the customer, if they need to charge £100 for a flight, just say it's £100 - not £1 with £99 worth of extras!! I paid £50 for one item of cabin baggage with Ryanair, would've been as cheap to buy my bag a seat!

  • rate this

    Comment number 233.

    Just more of the 30 yr example of pure greed ..started by thatcher and co..its never ending..screwed from cradle to grave ..unless you are born to money you may as well just except the fact that as a serf you are the lowest of the low..diamond and co earn enough to by their own jets..we have to make do with the dregs..never mind.. up the workers...

  • rate this

    Comment number 232.

    And this is news?! the flight companies now include the debit card price in the real price rather than at the end. Seriously SO WHAT!
    Also the dipstick that said get a boat, So the sea is less important than the sky regarding pollution then. True sheeple dude, true sheeple!


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