Airline no-show fees

By | Category: Travel rumblings

If you buy a ticket for a gig, a theatre, a cinema or an attraction, you can expect to forfeit a large chunk of the price if not all of it if you don’t turn up.

is it fair to cancel the return ticket if we miss part of the outbound journey through no fault of our own?

The same happens if you book a holiday. Cancel at the last minute and you will probably lose all of the money you have paid unless you have taken out cancellation insurance. Miss a plane journey and the same happens. You don’t really expect to be able to get any of your money back.

But what happens when have two or three flight legs and you miss one of those legs because the previous flight you were on was late? Unless both flights are with the same airline or the same airline alliance you not only are likely to forfeit your money but you will have to spend money in order to get a ticket on the next flight. And that is likely to be at a higher rate than the original ticket.

Which? think that the CAA should ban what it calls ‘rip-off’ no-show clauses claiming that they penalise passengers who miss one leg of their itinerary. It says that these clauses potentially breach both the Consumer Rights Act and the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Directive. It further claims that, in some cases, airlines are effectively able to double their money by reselling the seats they cancel.

Which? point out that the Austrian government has given a commitment to scrap the clauses.

Remember that a ticket usually includes the return portion so missing a leg may mean that the airline can cancel the return portion of the ticket. This is the part that it is the most objectionable about the current ticket rules that some – if not many – airlines follow.

Which? point out that the CAA concluded that a policy of automatically cancelling a passenger’s return if they do not take the outbound flight is ‘disproportionate’. It also said that ‘no-show’ clauses used by some airlines fell short of its expectations on ‘fairness and transparency’ for consumers.

As yet, though, the CAA has taken no enforcement against airlines. But maybe this an EU issue and the commission should legislate – much as it has done on airline compensation packages – rather than individual countries as the impact is likely to be international in scope. Similarly is it not for IATA to take a lead on this as the “trades union of the airline industry?  

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