Airlines guilty of drip pricing

Two of Australia's leading airline found guilty of breaching consumer law.

Airlines guilty of drip pricing

Have you ever seen a flight price that seems too good to be true? Well, by the time you get to the checkout with all the fees added, it probably is. Called drip pricing, it’s a dodgy scheme used by some airlines, two of which have just been called out by the Federal Court.

The ACCC launched its legal action against the two airlines concerned, Jetstar and Virgin, last year, claiming they failed to disclose booking and service fees that made flights more expensive than the headline price.

Mainly used on their mobile sites, drip pricing caused many customers to be unable to redeem advertised ticket prices due to the hidden fees associated with booking and service. CHOICE Head of Media, Tim Godfrey, agrees, saying, “Drip pricing makes it extremely difficult for people to compare the true cost of products. It’s unfair to consumers and it penalises companies who do the right thing.” Adding, “Companies are not allowed to advertise a headline price and then slowly reveal unavoidable extra fees and charges as you make your way through the checkout.”

Amen to that we say.

With the Federal Court finding Jetstar and Virgin had indeed breached sections of the Australian Consumer Law by not disclosing the booking and service fees on their mobile sites until the very end of the booking process, the decision should hopefully send a clear message.

Coming hot on the heels of the Federal Government’s decision last month to enforce a ban on excessive credit card surcharges, the future of booking flights is certainly heading in the right direction.

Have you fallen victim to drip pricing before and been drawn in by the headline price only to find out it’s much higher at the checkout? Tell us your story in the comments below.

You can read more about the Federal Government’s decision at CHOICE.


    To make a comment, please register or login
    5th Dec 2015
    Yes, this does happen when booking on line. One booking Iwas trying to make seemed like a good deal at the flight times I required only to find at the final step the credit card fee was $14. I was very disappointed and felt rather cheated
    5th Dec 2015
    I get so angry when I am trying to book a flight online and want to compare the different prices from different airlines. It is impossible to compare until you get to the final step of "booking" the flight. And Jetstar is far and away the worst for "drip pricing", so much so that now I do not even go looking at Jetstar's offering, it was making me to angry. So there you go Alan Joyce, you have lost another customer as I will never again fly with your sneaky airline(s).

    5th Dec 2015
    It's not only the above "rat out of the hat" trick, it's the baggage allowance smoke screen hiding the costs, as well.
    5th Dec 2015
    I haven't had a problem and we travel regularly with 'cut price' airlines and save our money for enjoyment at our destinations. Simply read EVERYTHING (on line) thoroughly (2 & 3 times) before committing payment. Having ticked/unticked all the options and at the end (a couple of minutes later) you aren't satisfied with the total cost/service to be purchased simply delete and check the other other airline's options. Which you surely do anyway ;) Your money, your choices. Being retired I have the spare time to do this :) I am NOT talking about the OPTION to pay the final amount by Credit Card, bank transfer, POLI payment etc. I DO think that all airline charges (and ALL other organisations that charge similarly) for credit card use IS lousy BUT I get around that by opting for POLI pay or bank transfer whichever offers no booking charge option.
    5th Dec 2015
    What is POLI payment?? I have scoured the airline webpages, but no mention of how to pay by this method.
    5th Dec 2015
    It's an 'instant' payment through your bank to the airline direct. I have used it for payment for bookings on Jetstar online (and other airlines). It occurs no charge for the reservation - free booking. Worth a look if you are interestred :) Happy Trails.
    5th Dec 2015
    p.s. it will appear when payment choice is offered. You could also 'Google' payment methods for Jetstar flights which should explain all options for online bookings.
    5th Dec 2015
    There's a hilarious little song called Cheap Flights by Fascinating Aida which was obviously directed at Ryan Air, the kings of drip pricing in the UK. If you've not heard it just Google "Cheap Flights Fascinating Aida" and you'll find the Youtube link. It's a great laugh.
    5th Dec 2015
    Yes :) Agree :)
    Blinky Bill
    5th Dec 2015
    I have to agree with heyybob, because I have done the same on a number of occasions. When I have obtained all costs, I then decide whether to continue or give the site I'm brousing the big flick. However, I do agree that not having to go through the rigmaroll of obtaining all costs along the way to a booking would improve the situation for all.
    5th Dec 2015
    Yes Bill. I'm sure that their 'we've added checked baggage for you' (uncheck if not required etc) is an insidious and deliberate ply by the airlines and similiar by other online businesses. BUT, as i say, I'm retired, have the time and making holiday plans/reservations/deals etc is a (time-consuming) hobby that I enjoy :) Strangely enough, my wife doesn't complain ....... yes, she IS my loving 'camp follower' ...... :D
    7th Dec 2015
    You can always hit the back button...sometimes it takes longer than reasonable to get to that stage though.

    Drip pricing is not offensive to me unless it wontonly chews up my time. It would be rare that anybody following a headline suggesting $800 return to Thailand with 10 days accommodation would not expect there may be a few extra costs to bear along the way. If they total a couple hundred (and bear in mind some are highly optional like travel insurance and CO2 offset payments) then it seems to me that you are still going a very long way with a reasonable stay for a thousand buckeroos.

    There does come a time however where the splash of colour to grab your eye is deliberately misleading, that is, lying. And that is not condonable.
    7th Dec 2015
    Agree Jaid, it sometimes IS difficult to 'back space' and you can even lose the connection :( Howrver, I find the type of advertising being discussed is pretty rampant in other businesses/styles etc of advertising. eg BIG letters ... 70% OFF ..... SMALL letters...... on selected items etc. It seems to be everywhere now where business is doing its hardest to grab your dollars ;)
    7th Dec 2015
    Caveat Emptor is the go, as always :)
    6th Feb 2016
    I am immune to lots if not all adverts 50 60 70% off.if I didn't need it last week I can do without it this week which means I don't really need it.i am becoming so numb I will even refuse something for nothing because I think there's a catch to it.Pensioners rule .

    Join YOURLifeChoices, it’s free

    • Receive our daily enewsletter
    • Enter competitions
    • Comment on articles