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 371.

    370. mira3 “Will they still treat their passengers like sheep?”

    I wasn’t aware that they did treat their passengers like sheep, there are many regulations on the transportation of livestock which give them much better conditions than we humans!

  • rate this

    Comment number 370.

    Will they still treat their passengers like sheep?

  • rate this

    Comment number 369.

    237. Chris. “The airlines still have to make a profit so stop moaning about a few extra pounds.”

    It’s not about the airlines making a profit; it’s about them being honest and upfront about the price. With the exception of fuel price fluctuations they know what their costs are and should include them all in the upfront price, not start adding them in half way through the booking process.

  • rate this

    Comment number 368.

    Maybe the cost of the UKBA's airport operations should also be borne by the people who use it rather than by the tax payer. If funded via the airlines/airports, similar to the policing of football matches, travellers could then expect a better service without queues, if they are paying for it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 367.

    If you cannot afford it, don't fly, simple. In this country everyone wants everything, every God given time, FOR FREE (or cheap). Air travel is much cheaper than it used to be and that is great and a disgrace at the same time. Who the flipping care about Wayne and Viennetta from Rough-upon-Chav not able to afford their tacky wedding in Las Vegas or Falaraki?

  • rate this

    Comment number 366.

    @354.GUARDIAN56 - I wasn't aware that the low-cost airlines ran this country but, hey ho... Seriously though, if you're that wound up about everything in this country and the way it's run then maybe you should stand for election - parish council, town council, Westminster, whichever -and do something about it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 365.

    This is great news, although it has taken a long time to get here. I doubt if it will make flights any cheaper but it will be easier to compare prices. It should also encourage more people to pay by debit card, thus denying the greedy credit card companies their cut.

  • rate this

    Comment number 364.

    When the excessive debit card and credit card charges are outlawed at the end of the year, will Easyjet, Ryanair etc have to justify their 'admin' charge rip-off scam? The whole process of booking is automated and self-service, who is administering anything..... a computer talking to computer talking t a printer? We do the printouts ourselves for these jokers, so they admin nothing for our cash.

  • rate this

    Comment number 363.

    @Chris; You miss the point Entirely - we all applaud the overall low costs: It's the duplicitous presentation of prices that is galling. Imagine picking up a "bargain" £1 sack of coffee in Tesco's and being told at the till 'there's an extra £5 for using a basket, & £5 for parking & £2 for a bag & £2 for the receipt & £3 VAT on the whole deal ! Should've been stamped out a long time ago.

  • rate this

    Comment number 362.

    @357.Matt - no, you'll see the price of the fare rise by that amount as the airline works on total sale price including fees. As everyone posting on this site knows, the fees are bumped up to keep the headline price down. So remove of the fees and the base price will rise to compensate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 361.

    Some posters just don't get it - it's not the overall price customers end up paying that's the's how the Airlines go about dishonestly advertising a flight as cheaper when realistically it's actually more expensive with taxes, lugauge and card fees etc added toward the end of their booking.


  • rate this

    Comment number 360.

    What annoys me particularly is that many of the airlines will not charge a "booking fee" if you use a certain debit card, usually a Visa Electron. No UK banks issue these anymore and those which HAVE issued them are discontinuing and replacing them. It's not a very honest way for an airline to do business and is annoying when this fee pops up near the end of the process.

  • Comment number 359.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 358.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 357.

    Good. I bet we'll see the price of airfares miraculously fall by about £5.

  • rate this

    Comment number 356.

    No flies on the mendacious 'low cost airlines'. Ducking and diving can cause serious air sickness for passengers - while you avoid aviation duty plus VAT when you fuel your aircraft in UK. Plus you enjoy low corporation tax while being based in Dublin and make all your pilots self-employed thus avoiding National Insurance too.

    Wish we all had your razor sharp accountants Mr O.

  • rate this

    Comment number 355.

    We're not annoyed at the price. We're annoyed at the way the price is built up. You're drawn in on a low price, and they then gradually, slyly, reveal actually the final price (with no extra beneifts) is significantly more than you first thought. Be up front with the price from the start is all we need.

  • rate this

    Comment number 354.

    Just another example of the thieving SOBs that run this country..from parliament (both houses)to scotland wapping and on to the all (air)ports inbetween..totally reamed from birth to death..because as we all know "THEIR WORTH IT "!!!!!..ripoff britain..if we havent got a cartel or quango to cover it.. we will create one problem !

  • rate this

    Comment number 353.

    257. Bigjohnuk
    the seller knows that the payment is cleared, thus no bad debit later etc"

    Never heard of charge-backs? The seller doesn't know the payment is 'safe' until many months later. This is especially the case for mail order & internet orders where the retailer is treated as guilty unless proved otherwise by the card issuers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 352.

    305. MC9
    From what I understand vendors are charged up to £1 for their customers to use debit/credit cards!"

    Personal debit cards are usually a lot less than that - eg 20p or so per transaction.

    Business debit cards and credit cards are usually a few percent, so for some tickets at £600, the vendor may be charged £12 or so. That's why credit cards often have extra charges in some places.


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