CJEU Advocate General: EU law allows air carriers pricing freedom - including services such as checking in baggage

Michael Wukoschitz's picture

In August 2010, the air carrier Vueling added a surcharge of €40 to the base price of airline tickets (€241.48) purchased by Ms Arias Villegas when she checked in two pieces of baggage online. Ms Villegas therefore lodged a complaint against Vueling, claiming that the contract of carriage by air concluded with that undertaking contained an unfair term. As Spanish legislation prohibits air carriers from charging for checking in passengers’ baggage in the form of an optional price supplement, the Instituto Galego de Consumo de la Xunta de Galicia (consumer body established by the Autonomous Community of Galicia) imposed an administrative fine of €3 000 on Vueling.

In that context, the Court for Contentious Administrative Proceedings, Ourense, asked the CJEU whether that Spanish legislation was compatible with the principle of pricing freedom laid down in Article 22(1) of Regulation (EC) No 1008/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 September 2008 on common rules for the operation of air services in the Community.

In his Opinion delivered today, Advocate General Yves Bot, proposes that the Court answer that EU law allows air carriers pricing freedom in respect of all commercial services associated with the performance of the contract of carriage by air, including services such as checking in baggage. Accordingly, with regard to the pricing of checked-in baggage, the air carriers have the option of including the service in the base price of the airline ticket or to offer the service in return for an optional price supplement. In consequence, the Advocate General considers that the above mentioned Spanish legislation is not compatible with EU law.

However, the Advocate General states that this type of interpretation is not applicable to hand baggage, as the airline must keep those free.

Source: CJEU press release No 11/14 of Jan. 23, 2014

Find full text of Advocate General’s Opinion in Case C-487/12 - Vueling Airlines SA v Instituto Galego de Consumo de la Xunta de Galicia here>>