OFT Victory on Airline Debit Card Payments

It’s always nice to round off the week with a victory for the consumer and this week’s enforcement action by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is definitely one in the eye for certain airlines.

Following maximum inconvenience for customers, airlines which have previously waited until the last minute when selling flights online to slap on a charge for using a debit card can no longer do so.

As a result a total of 12 airlines – Aer Lingus, BMI Baby, Eastern Airways, easyJet, Flybe, German Wings, Jet2, Lufthansa, Ryanair, Thomas Cook, Thomson (TUI) and Wizz Air – which were guilty of the practice have been caught out.

Eastern Airways, easyJet, Flybe, German Wings, Lufthansa, Thomas Cook, Thomson (TUI) and Wizz Air have already made the necessary changes to their pricing structures and the other airlines must fall into line by August 1.

Now this does not mean that the charge has necessarily been scrapped but it does mean it will now be included in the headline price quoted at the outset.

So it doesn’t mean the flight is cheaper, but it does mean one less charge for you, the consumer, to pay at the end if you are using your debit card.

However, the changes in the charges enforced by the OFT do not go as far as stopping airlines for charging on credit card payments which are more costly to process.

Instead, airlines will be forced to be more transparent in applying credit card charges and they will no longer be able to spring the charges on consumers at the very last minute of the payment process.

So hopefully you’ll find booking a flight just a little bit simpler as the airlines become a little more open in the way they do business.