(UK) – The government is considering taking action against hidden fees in the airline industry and other sectors to enhance online shopping transparency.
A public consultation is being launched by the Department for Business and Trade, focusing on addressing companies that tack on essential charges during the checkout process, resulting in higher final prices for consumers.
Research conducted by the government reveals that this practice is widespread across various industries and costs consumers £1.6 billion annually.
Government targets ‘Drip Pricing’ and hidden fees across industries
The phenomenon, known as “drip pricing,” occurs in sectors ranging from ticket fares to food deliveries, affecting almost three-quarters of transport providers, including air and rail.
It is also prevalent in 54% of entertainment industry providers and 56% of hospitality firms. The government is taking aim at fake reviews and confusing labels in separate consultations.
Business Minister Kevin Hollinrake emphasized the importance of providing clear and accurate information upfront to empower consumers in making informed purchases.
He acknowledged that modern shopping offers a wealth of choices but pointed out that fake reviews and hidden fees can lead to confusion and uncertainty for consumers.
Hidden fees can also catch travelers by surprise at the airport if they fail to adhere to an airline’s terms and conditions.
This issue gained attention when an elderly couple was charged £110 by Ryanair for checking in and printing their tickets at the airport.
“Ancillary” services, such as baggage fees and seat selection, have become a significant part of airlines’ revenue streams, generating $103 billion globally in 2022, up from $40 billion in 2013.
While airlines argue that unbundling these extras from the ticket price provides more choice and lower overall fares, there is growing demand for transparency and clarity in final pricing.
Trade body Airlines UK, while emphasizing its commitment to delivering value for consumers, awaits the outcome of the consultation.
The industry is highly competitive, and the goal is to ensure that the proposed regulations strike a balance between consumer protection and business operations.
Online articles often share tips for avoiding costly extras, including wearing additional layers of clothing to avoid baggage fees and carefully planning holiday wardrobes to minimize unnecessary clothing.
Travelers are also advised to measure their cabin bags to avoid unexpected fees and book directly with airlines to avoid inflated charges by online travel agents.