A few weeks ago, the EU’s directorate of Health and Consumers published its long-awaited list of airlines that were not living up to to the required standards of transparent pricing on their websites. One of the airlines listed as “non-compliant” was Emirates.
We could not understand this and nor could Emirates who complained very loudly. We are certainly not unconditional fans of Emirates (rather the reverse in fact) but it has to be said their website meets all the standards of transparency one could expect. The fare is displayed in full at the beginning of the search process and there are no booking fees. “The fare you see is the fare you pay” – what could possibly be wrong with this?
Compare Emirates with flybe (who were listed as non-compliant but promising to make the required alterations:
Flybe display fares net of taxes and charges which are only added when you click on a specific fare (we think this is quite wrong but the EU seems to accept it).
You are then pre-sold insurance, baggage charges and pestered to reserve your seat. To avoid the extra charges for insurance and baggage you have to de-select the items by un-ticking the purchase box. This is, quite rightly, not allowed by the EU.
Even worse, right at the end of the booking process, a booking fee suddenly appears. There is no warning of this and it is surely against EU guidelines. The EU legislation was supposed to ensure that the first price you see (once you have ticked the fare to include taxes and charges) should be the price for which you can travel. This is not the case with flybe.
Now, we have to ask, how on earth did the EU manage to make its comments about Emirates. Had a junior clerk made a mistake? Did no one check? Surely before making such damaging accusations, senior people make absolutely sure of the facts.
The EU has been made to look very foolish indeed. They have now been forced to apologise and even commend Emirates for its high standards. Unfortunately, this incident leads us to question whether the EU Directorate for Health and Consumers really has a clue what it is doing. The legislation regarding transparent pricing was well-intentioned but if the people policing it are capable of such gross errors, there is little hope.