Reports have been released this week concerning several unnamed low-budget flights airlines that have been charged for breaches of European aviation laws recently.
According to the information released, the airlines in question have been selling low-budget flights to a third of all passengers, putting into question the number of travellers that have been affected. These airlines have been fined over €1 million as a consequence of their breach.
The airlines were sanctioned for selling low-budget flights while charging their travellers extra money for features that had been previously included within their package price, such as hand luggage or seat reservations for children to be able to sit next to their parents.
The Ministry of Consumption in Spain has begun the disciplinary process following an investigation of the offending airlines. These low-budget flights carriers were investigated for charging extra fees after a complaint from a Spanish consumer association called Facua concerning an airline that had begun to charge passengers for hand luggage.
The concerns of the Ministry surround the ability to falsely advertise low-budget flights with even lower fares without the addition of hand luggage and seat reservations added until after the booking. This allows airlines to rank higher in SEO and therefore influences further passengers to book a ticket unaware that they will face extra charges.
The Ministry of Consumption released a statement that said, “This allows them to have a privileged SEO positioning in search engines and in comparators compared to competitors that do include these services in the price of the ticket that is advertised in the comparator.”
This specific violation goes against Article 47 of Spain’s Consolidated Text f the General Law for the Defense of Consumers and Users. Most airlines violating Article 47 would face fines between €10,001 and €100,000 if they have committed a serious offence, or between €100,001 and €1,000,000 if it is incredibly serious.
In this case, however, if the benefits gained through the low-budget flights exceed the fines usually charged, these sanctions could be increased by up to eight times the illicit benefit.
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