Reports in the media suggest that Which? is planning to lodge a super-complaint with the Office of Fair Trading, asking it to investigate the level of fees imposed by some companies when customers pay for flights with credit or debit cards. Expedia.co.uk does not apply its own credit card fees or automatically add charges for additional services to the price at the end of the booking process.
In the wake of this debate, Expedia has undertaken research to better understand consumer attitudes to fees and travel booking charges.
The survey commissioned by Expedia and run by independent research company, ResearchNow questioned over 700 regular UK travelers. It was supported by in depth interviews conducted by independent consultancy, The Value Engineers.
Low cost airlines have changed the way consumers think about flight booking fees. Over 95% of travelers expect low cost airlines to charge additional fees on top of the headline price. Consumers are resigned to the fact that booking travel will involve paying extra fees and charges.
A significant source of discontent is flight booking web sites that show an initially attractive price, but then add significant additional charges in the final stages of the booking process. Around one in four consumers felt so strongly about this that they would abandon their booking to find an alternative deal out of principle on seeing such fees, even if the flight they had found met all their other needs.
While 32% of people considered it highly unacceptable to charge credit card fees, 53% stated that charging fees for debit card payments was a completely unacceptable practice. During research interviews with The Value Engineers, respondents reported seeing wildly different levels of fees being charged for both credit and debit card payments on different web sites.
Other additional fees that irked customers were:
59% think check in fees at the airport are highly unacceptable
53% think online check in fees are highly unacceptable
44% think fees for checking in bags to the hold are highly unacceptable
21% think fees for online seat selection are highly unacceptable
Surprisingly, when asked about other potential fees that airlines might charge in the future, 84% stated that they would find it unacceptable to be charged to use the on-board toilet- meaning 16% might consider paying for the privilege!
Andrew Warner of Expedia, says, “The level of regulatory fees and taxes incorporated into flight prices in the UK has increased dramatically – particularly with the introduction of increased Air Passenger Duty levies. This has placed a higher cost burden on the British traveler. They are looking for travel retailers to be open and fair when it comes to additional charges on their web sites.
“The consumer protection, offered by credit cards, means travelers are less reluctant to pay a small fee for using a credit card than a debit card. However the fact that some companies do not reveal credit card-fees until the end of the booking process, if at all, can make it harder for travelers to judge the best deal. Expedia.co.uk does not apply its own credit card fees or automatically add charges for additional services to the price at the end of the booking process.”
In order to better enable travelers to make informed choices between airlines and flight deals, Expedia.co.uk is now highlighting those airlines who do not levy their own credit card fees upfront in flight search results.