Last updated: 11:44 AM ET, Sun June 19 2016

Brits To Investigate Low-Cost Carriers’ ‘Hidden Charges’

Airlines & Airports | Rich Thomaselli | June 19, 2016

Brits To Investigate Low-Cost Carriers’ ‘Hidden Charges’

Britain’s version of the FAA is looking into ancillary fees charged by low-budget carriers like Ryanair. (Photo courtesy of Ryanair)

U.S. legislators have talked a good game about the proliferation of ancillary fees on U.S. airlines, ranging from baggage charges to ticket changes, but haven’t been able to accomplish much yet.

Now let’s see how far the Brits get.

England’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will open an investigation into three of its low-cost carriers – Ryanair, easyJet and Thomas Cook – over how the airlines go to market with their respective pricing structure on fees, according to The Telegraph.

Authorities want to know if the airlines are “being open, clear and transparent about what additional charges they impose in relation to tickets and make sure that consumers are aware of what they are paying for,” a CAA spokesman told the paper about the surcharges, which many travelers are calling “hidden charges.”

Ancillary fees such as the cost for name changes on tickets or printing a boarding pass are of particular interest to the CAA, with particular focus on the high fees at Ryanair. Currently, it costs £110 ($157.95 USD) to change the name on a ticket with Ryanair, £45 ($64.62 USD) to check in at the airport on a Ryanair flight instead of on its website, and £15 ($21.54) to be issued a printed boarding pass instead of printing it yourself.

CAA minister Robert Goodwill said the investigation was set into motion “with the aim of ensuring the rights and obligations of the consumers and businesses are fair and balanced and consumers are not being penalized by unfair contract terms. The administration fees the industry currently charges are part of the terms and conditions and as such, will form a part of this work.”

The investigation was prompted by a class-action lawsuit filed by more than 5,000 Ryanair passengers for £400 million ($574.3 million USD) against the airline over alleged ‘unfair hidden charges'.

A Ryanair spokesman told the paper: "All Ryanair charges and fees are clearly outlined on the website and throughout the entire booking process. Customers are asked to ensure that the details they enter at the time of booking are correct before completing their booking and we offer a 24 hour ‘grace period’ to correct minor booking errors."

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