The end of airfares that were always too good to be true

Just as there’s no such thing as a free lunch, everybody knows you can’t fly anywhere for $49, despite the tricky ads promising incredibly discounted flights. To save passengers the trouble of learning the real prices of flights from fine print, the Canadian Transportation Agency is drafting new marketing rules for airlines that would require them to place full fares, including taxes, airport fees and other costs, in their ads. Consultations start on Monday on the new regulations are expected to be in place by the end of the year. Though they’ve previously resisted calls to do so, airlines such Air Canada and Porter seem to have anticipated the rules and started posting “all-in” fares on print ads and on their websites last week, while WestJet placed newspaper ads as early as January with all-inclusive fares.

The CTA, which has a quasi-judicial power, is also looking at how airlines use Facebook and Twitter to determine what counts as advertising and draft rules for advertising in social networks. All-in airline ads may be new to Canada, but they are already in use in the United States and Europe, where a new emissions-reduction fee has been imposed for all flights in and out of the old continent, adding about $6 to those trips’ fares and angering non-EU countries, including Canada, which are now considering retaliatory measures against European air carriers.




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The end of airfares that were always too good to be true

  1. True taxes should not be included in the advertised fares, for the usual good reasons (mainly, transparency). 

    However, there’s no good argument transparency with facilities fees (airport improvement, NavCan) – they are an internal cost of the good, albeit one in which the airline can’t control or compete on.

    The security fee is sort of a tax, since it goes to general revenues, but assuming it isn’t revenue-positive, it’s a mandatory service fee, and should be included in advertized fares.

    There’s no argument for ‘fuel surcharges’ not being included in advertized fares – yes, it allows the airlines to retroactively adjust previously advertized fares – but they’re all big boys who can hedge on fuel prices and avoid the need for separate fees.

    • They have to use the “all-in” price – but is there a rule that says they can’t also break that down so consumers can see how much is the airline’s cost and how much is tax and infrastructure fees?

      I like the “all-in” cost for ease of comparison-shopping, but I still want to know how much of that is going to the government’s pockets. If it’s hidden, they will be more easily tempted to jack up those costs, thinking people will blame the airlines.

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