Low-cost carrier Easyjet has made a number of changes to the way it makes and displays booking fees on its website and in advertising, including introducing a new flat rate £9 “admin fee”.
The new fee will be applied to all bookings from today (January 12), and will be displayed as part of the final fare on the first stage of the booking process, as well as in all advertising by the carrier. Easyjet says the move will “make booking flights with the airline even more transparent”.
The £9 admin fee will be applied once regardless of the number of flights purchased in the booking, so will benefit larger group bookings. The carrier says that “ the overwhelming majority of its customers book multiple flights or flights with multiple passengers”.
Credit card fees will continue to be applied in addition to the admin fee, and debit card payments will continue to be free of charges aside from the admin fee.
The move will be welcomed by those who believe airlines should move towards a more transparent, upfront method of displaying fares.
But it's worth noting that for those paying by debit card the changes effectively mean a £1 increase in their final fare, and for those paying by Visa Electron the admin fee is a new charge entirely.
Previously Easyjet charged an £8 "booking fee" (again charged once per booking) for debit card purchases, which was not displayed until the latter stages of the booking process, as it was waived for flights purchased using Visa Electron cards.
This fee-free payment mechanism has now been phased out, so as all payment methods are now subject to the same admin fee, the carrier is able to display the charge in the first stage of the booking process.
The carrier said that "Following its consultation with the OFT and other European Regulators Easyjet has decided to phase out Visa Electron as a free payment option from January 12, 2012. As fewer banks are now issuing Visa Electron across Europe fewer consumers were able to use this payment method. The majority of our customers will therefore be unaffected by this change.
The move follows plans by the UK Treasury late last year to ban excessive charges on purchases made by credit and debit card (see online news December 23, 2010), and an investigation by the Office of Fair Trading which "put passenger travel companies on notice to change misleading debit and credit card surcharging practices or face enforcement action under consumer protection laws" (see online news June 29, 2010).
Ryanair currently charges a £6 per person, per leg administration charge for credit card transactions, although this fee is not applicable if passengers use the carrier’s Cash Passport pre-paid Mastercard .
For more information visit easyjet.com.
Report by Mark Caswell