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Yesterday, the European Union’s Consumer Protection Commissioner Meglena Kuneva condemned “misleading advertising and unfair practices” pursued by European sites selling airline tickets. The Consumer Protection Commission investigated 446 Web sites and found that a whopping 226 did not respect EU consumer protection law, on grounds of unfair pricing, hidden charges, and/or improperly translated conditions and terms.
Consumers should be empowered to know from the get-go how low a fare actually is. The last second taxes and charges smoke-and-mirrors-effect does no one any favors; low-cost carriers may not realize it now, but this investigation will actually strengthen them in the long run, by giving consumers a more realistic sense of what they’ll actually be paying for their flights.
Best of all, the Commission’s statement has teeth. Airlines and other vendors have four months to clean things up. If sites do not manage to do so, they’ll be fined or even be forced to close.