Airlines hiding charges says TSI
[2nd April 2008]
Airlines are making extra money from passengers by not making baggage fees clear and even by using faulty scales at check in an investigation by the Trading Standards Institute has revealed.
One airline was investigated by Trading Standards at the request of BAA after a complaint about the weighing of cabin baggage. 18 sets of scales were tested at check in and 10 showed a weight even before any baggage was placed on them.
The significance of these errors is compounded by the fact that all check in staff at every airport in the UK can easily correct the indication on the scales by pushing a button, which sets the scale indication to zero, before the consumer is asked to put their baggage on, says TSI national lead officer for holidays and travel, Bruce Treloar.
Last August the Office of Fair Trading said it was taking action against 13 airlines over misleading online holiday pricing. But our investigation proves that a number of airlines are finding new ways to add extra charges to flight prices, Treloar says.
Trading Standards found one airline that charges an extra fee just to check in at the airport. It also notes increasing confusion with baggage limits and extra charges levied by airlines when luggage is checked in at the airport, rather than online when the booking is made.
The findings of our investigation show that, despite the spotlight being on them, airlines are still not being up front about the true cost of flights - and it's clearly a nightmare for consumers, comments Treloar.
Last year Consumer Direct reported a 64% increase in air travel complaints compared to the previous year. Non-optional extras have to be included in headline prices, but where other costs may be incurred - such as baggage charges - companies must do their utmost not to mislead, comments Frances Tuke, spokesperson for the Association of British Travel Agents.
Written by: Nick Purdom
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