Pricing

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USA: airlines to challenge DOT advertising rule before U. S. Supreme Court

Three airlines have challenged the Transportation Department’s new price-advertising rule nefore the U.S. Supreme Court, claiming that the DOT is violating the First Amendment by prohibiting airlines from advertising base prices net of taxes and fees. The airlines also claim that the DOT has been violating the Airline Deregulation Act by imposing unique requirements such as “the size of typeface and the length of mandatory refunds — in an industry that Congress expressly chose to deregulate.”

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USA: Federal Trade Commission requires hotels to disclose all mandatory surcharges

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'.

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UK: airlines to include debit card surcharges in headline prices

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.

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USA: DOT fines companies for violating Consumer Protection and Price Advertising Rules

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) fined online travel agent Travelocity $180,000 for violating the Department’s rule on full-fare advertising by failing to include fuel surcharges and other fees in advertised airfares and ordered it to cease and desist from further violations.

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USA: Airlines lose appeal against DOT fare rules

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington has upheld the Transportation Department’s full-fare advertising and fare refund rules that had been challenged by Allegiant, Spirit and Southwest. The rules that require airlines and travel sellers to quote full prices with all taxes and mandatory fees includedwent into effect last year. The airlines had challenged that provision on the grounds that there is nothing “inherently” deceptive about showing taxes separately, as is commonly done in most other industries.

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UK and Unfair Contract Terms Reforms

The Scottish Law Commission and the Law Commission for England and Wales have opened a consultation on proposals to protect consumers from unfair terms hidden in small print.

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CJEU: inclusion of flight cancellation insurance as a default setting unlawful when selling air tickets over the internet

A German consumer-protection association has taken proceedings against ebookers.com before the German courts with a view to requiring that company to refrain from automatically including cancellation insurance with the air fare:

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UK: OFT fines British Airways in fuel surcharges price-fixing case

On April 19, 2012, the UK Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has announced its decision that British Airways (BA) and Virgin Atlantic Airways (VAA) engaged in anti-competitive practices in relation to the pricing of passenger fuel surcharges, and has imposed a fine of GBP 58.5 million on BA. VAA brought the matter to the OFT's attention and, under the OFT's leniency policy, has not been fined.

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USA: DOT fines ticket agent and Qantas for advertising violations

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) fined ticket agent Unister USA, also known as Flights24.com, USD 30,000 for violating the Department’s rules on fare advertising and disclosure of code-share flights.

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ECJ Advocate General: air ticket pricing rules regarding ‘optional price supplements’ also apply to a cancellation insurance

Article 23(1) of Regulation No 1008/2008 on common rules for the operation of air services in the Community provides that with rergard to air fares or air rates, optional price supplements shall be communicated in a clear, transparent and unambiguous way at the start of any booking process and their acceptance by the customer shall be on an “opt-in

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