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Jetstar running late as Tigerair and Virgin Oz toe the line

December 9, 2016 Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59All eyes are on Jetstar now that Tigerair Australia has joined Virgin Australia in doing the right thing by removing pre-selection of travel insurance and checked baggage during the online booking process.

Jetstar plans to do the same, but slowly. Choice, the Australian consumer advocacy organisation, has been running a ‘Ditch the Ticks’ campaign to end pre-selection. It has attacked what it calls Jetstar’s “sneaky tactics” on the issue.

“Jetstar, Tiger and Virgin airlines display several optional services during the online booking process – many of them pre-ticked,” Choice said recently.

“These include travel insurance, luggage fees, seat selection and even charity donations. If the customer doesn’t notice these extras or forgets to manually uncheck the boxes during booking, the airlines add the costs to the final fare. It’s particularly a problem if you’re booking in a hurry, or if English isn’t your first language.”

Choice found that Jetstar was the worst offender, “with preselected optional extras adding 40% to a return fare from Sydney to the Gold Coast over the Australia Day break”.

“We don’t think the airlines should be selecting these extras for you,” Choice said. “We think that customers are able to decide what optional extras they’d like without having them preselected.”

Virgin and Tigerair have now agreed, and come into line on the matter – but not Jetstar.

Choice stated: “Hot on the heels of Virgin’s decision, and under pressure from Choice and the ACCC, Jetstar announced on 2 December 2016 that it too will stop the practice of preselecting extras on online ticket sales – but not until July 2017.”

Choice spokesman Tom Godfrey said: “Jetstar’s decision to delay the removal of the tick box tax until July 2017 is unacceptable. Given Jetstar has already removed the pre-selection of extras in New Zealand, and Virgin and Tiger have done the right thing in Australia, the airline’s seven-month delay is bad news for customers.”

“If a company needs to use sneaky tactics to trick their customers into purchasing optional extras they may not want or need, it’s time to rethink their business model.”

Tigerair Australia issued a statement last Friday saying it would continue to highlight travel insurance, checked baggage and other options throughout the booking process “to assist customers in making the right choices to suit their travel needs.

“Tigerair Australia recommends that customers purchase travel insurance given its importance in the event of any disruption or change of circumstance. Additionally, Tigerair Australia gives customers the opportunity to purchase checked baggage at a cost-effective price during the booking process as it is always much higher to pay it for at the airport.

“All fees and charges continue to be outlined in the Tigerair Australia booking process to provide full transparency to our customers.”

Last week, Choice praised Virgin Australia’s decision to change its on-line travel insurance option from ‘opt out’ to ‘opt in’ and urged other airlines to follow suit.

“Pre-ticked optional extras can see travellers paying up to 40% more for things they don’t want, when all they’re trying to do is book a flight,” said Choice head of Media Tom Godfrey.

“It’s great news that Virgin has decided to let its customers actively opt-in to these online add-ons.”

A Choice investigation found preselected extras increased the price of a flight by up to 40%.

“In much the same way that a supermarket wouldn’t get away with handing you a trolley full of groceries you don’t want, every time you arrived at the checkout, an airline shouldn’t be able to opt you in for products you don’t want or need,” Godfrey said.

Written by Peter Needham

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