Virgin and Jetstar Misled Customers Over Airfares, Says ACCC

17th Nov 2015

Two Australian airlines, Virgin and Jetstar, were accused of "drip pricing" by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

The ACCC blamed both companies in federal court for misleading and deceiving their passengers by slogging them with surprise booking and service fees when they booked their tickets via Internet.

According to the court, Jetstar misinformed customers about airfares in advertised on its website back in 2013, as well as on its mobile site last year. The Commission could not find that the carrier was conducting any misleading information on its website or its promotional emails in 2014.

The ACCC also said that changes Jetstar made to its website in 2013 were enough for "any reasonable consumer" to understand the existence and size of his or her booking fee.

On the other hand, Virgin Australia was also found guilty of similar misleading conduct, in particular when it comes to specific fares it promoted on its mobile site in 2014. Virgin's website and promotional emails were free of such deceptions.

Both airlines responded to the Federal Court's ruling.

A spokesman for Virgin said on Monday that the Federal Court ruled in its favour on five out of six ACCC's claims:

"The one claim on which the Federal Court found in favour of the ACCC related to the disclosure of the Booking and Service Fee on Virgin Australia's mobile website. Virgin Australia is reviewing the judgment and considering its position on this aspect."

Jetstar also praised the court's ruling regarding the adequacy of its disclosure of booking and service fees, saying the following in a statement:

"We want our customers to clearly understand all fees and charges associated with their booking and that's why we have progressively made changes to make it clearer at every step of the booking process what charges may apply."