Survey reveals travel websites misleading consumers over price

The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) has warned holidaymakers to be on their guard against false advertising after a survey found that 50% of websites selling airline tickets misled customers.

The EU survey looked at 447 travel sites across mainland Europe and found 226 “irregularities” that breached European guidelines on pricing.

EU consumer commissioner Meglana Kuneva says she is giving travel companies four months to respond to the findings, and she will “name and shame” those who do not advertise prices correctly.

She says: “I do not think a situation where over 50% of sites checked seem to mislead consumers is one that we can tolerate for long.”

She adds that the EU is now issuing “the strongest possible warning to companies to take swift action to put their house in order.”

The UK has already taken steps to deal with the problem, where ABTA called in the Office of Fair Trading earlier this year. ABTA says that all airlines except Ryanair and Aer Lingus now meet the guidelines. The two airlines have given an undertaking to comply.

An ABTA spokesman says: “We need to ensure there is a level playing field and that honesty does not put an airline at a commercial disadvantage.”

Keith Betton of the Travel Trust Association adds that the attitude of some companies is “bringing our industry into disrepute.”