A new guidance launched by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), is aimed at airlines, price comparison websites, travel agents and tour operators, and is designed to make sure the travel industry is fully aware of its responsibilities under existing consumer legislation. The document makes clear that the travel industry must provide consumers with the information they need, when they need it and in a transparent way they can clearly understand.
According to a report by China.org.cn, the Standing Committee of the 12th National People's Congress adopted a law on tourism in an effort to protect the rights of tourists and clear the way for the industry's sustainable development. Reportedly, the new law outlines measures to address key problems -- unfair competition, wanton price hikes, and forced goods purchases -- which have plagued the travel industry and aroused strong public discontent in China.
In December 2011, the Government of Canada announced that the Canadian Transportation Agency would develop regulations requiring all-inclusive air price advertising. These regulations are now published on Part II of the Canada Gazette.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) said it levied USD 3.6 million in penalties for 2012 violations of the department’s consumer-protection rules for air passengers. The total is up from USD 3.3 million in 2011. During 2012, the Department issued 49 consent orders for consumer rule violations, the most recent two against Copa Airlines and Virgin America for not strictly adhering to the DOT’s rules for lengthy tarmac delays.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has warned 22 hotel operators that their online reservation sites may violate the law by providing a deceptively low estimate of what consumers can expect to pay for their hotel rooms. According to the FTC letters, one common complaint consumers raised involved mandatory fees hotels charge for amenities such as newspapers, use of onsite exercise or pool facilities, or internet access, sometimes referred to as ‘resort fees'.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has assessed a USD 50,000 penalty against the online ticket agent Travelzoo for failing to properly disclose to consumers when flights were being operated under a code-sharing arrangement, and ordered the company to cease and desist from future violations.
On March 6, 2012, the Quebec Superior Court authorized a class action against Groupe Aeroplan Inc. relating to its decision to implement expiry dates on its loyalty program points (“Miles”). Under the new Aeroplan Terms and Conditions, if there is no activity in a member's Aeroplan account within a 12-month period, the Miles will expire. Accumulated Miles will also expire if they are not used within seven years of acquisition.
The Transportation Department has issued a guidance letter to tour operators and others in the public charter industry, imposing new requirements in the wake of the March collapse of Direct Air. According to the DOT, the company:
Following enforcement action of the U.K. Office of Fair Trading (OFT), 12 airlines have agreed to include debit card surcharges in the headline price rather than surprise consumers at the end of the booking process. Any surcharges for paying by credit card will be easy to find when booking online. Aer Lingus, BMI Baby, Eastern Airways, easyJet, Flybe, German Wings, Jet2, Lufthansa, Ryanair, Thomas Cook, Thomson (TUI) and Wizz Air were subject to an OFT consumer law investigation and have agreed to change their practices.