EDITORIAL: Airline pricing rules take off

Airlines must now be up front and advertise full price of their flights.

Imagine going to a restaurant for a $5 steak dinner, but when you get there you discover being seated at a table will cost you $5, a surcharge of $7 for the plate and utensils and another $4 for the server to take your order. Add on the tip and HST and suddenly your cheap meal has become an expensive night out.

That’s how Canada’s airlines have been allowed to operate.

It’s marketing strategy: advertise only the base cost of the ticket – with the full price of that ticket, including all its various surcharges, fees and taxes – revealed when the purchaser is about to commit.

Consumer advocates have been complaining about it for years.

In fact, the federal government did do something about it, adding the “all-in-one” airfare advertising clause to the Canadian Transportation Act in June 2007.

But lobbying by the airlines, which claimed the new pricing policy would put them at a disadvantage to foreign airlines who could continue to advertise only their base fares on their own websites, has delayed its implementation for years.

That’s about to change.

European airlines have been required to advertise the complete cost of a ticket since 2008. In January, American airlines will also fall in line with all-in airfares. The competitive disadvantage argument no longer exists.

So why will Canadian consumers have to wait another 12 months for a five-year-old law to finally be enforced?

While it’s likely that only the most naive traveller believes they could actually travel to England for $99, requiring the airlines to be up front when advertising their fares will empower consumers when making the best choice for their travel spending.

– Black Press

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