SOME online flight search engines hike plane ticket prices by as much as 43 per cent, said the Spanish Users and Consumers Organisation (OCU).
According to the OCU, the majority of flight booking engines fail to inform consumers of the final price they have to pay and charge them additional costs, some of which are illegal, including a fee for the use of a credit card. This practice has been banned since September 1.
This is one of the conclusions drawn by the association after conducting a study between September and November that looked at 11 airlines and 12 travel agencies which provide an online flight search engine service.
It is difficult for consumers to compare plane ticket prices and buy the cheapest one they can find, since most websites fail to observe legislation that makes it mandatory to inform them of the final price they have to pay once they have started their search, said OCU.
They also analysed how prices vary depending on when the consumer books the flight and found that they tend to register rather sharp increases the closer the departure date is. According to the study, the cheapest tickets were found two months before the departure date, while prices were twice as high 48 hours before the flight.
OCU called upon authorities to monitor online flight booking engines and put the brake on this practice, which, they say, violates consumers’ rights. Moreover, the results of the study prompted the organisation to lodge a complaint against three airlines and 11 travel agencies.