Spain penalises low-cost airlines for hand luggage policy

by Lorraine Williamson
low-cost airlines

MADRID – After extensive investigation, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs has initiated the first disciplinary proceedings against several low-cost airlines for charging extra costs for hand luggage in the cabin. 

This can be read in a press release from the ministry. The companies Ryanair, Vueling, Easyjet, Wizzair and Volotea, among others, have been charged, consumer association Facua reports in a statement. The ministry has “expanded the investigation into extra charges for services traditionally included in the ticket price”. This includes services such as reserving a seat next to another passenger for minors or dependents. 

Decoupling historically included elements in the ticket price 

Many airlines are trying to increase their profits by “uncoupling elements” that were historically included in the total ticket price. These are elements, for which they now charge extra. “These companies advertise very competitive prices, which gives them a privileged SEO position in search engines and comparison websites. Whereas some competitors do include these services in the advertised ticket price,” the Department of Consumer Affairs said. 

Also see: Spain is investigating 7 low-cost airlines over of hand luggage policy 

Cogesa Expats

Advertising with misleading prices 

According to the ministry, the companies advertise with misleading prices, since “in most cases the originally advertised price does not correspond to the final price that the consumer pays.” Furthermore, these airlines would not accept cash payments at the airport for additional services, in violation of regulations. 

Fines of up to 1 million euros for very serious violations 

The ministry estimates that fines range from €10,001 to €100,000 for serious violations. However, for very serious violations, fines could range from €100,001 to €1,000,000. If the illegally obtained profit from these violations exceeds these amounts, fines can rise to four to six times the illegally obtained amount for serious violations and six to eight times for very serious violations, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs has concluded. 

According to the ministry, the investigated airlines together have a market share of more than 30%, both within and outside Europe, which means they influence the bookings of millions of passengers. 

Also see: Vueling changes rules on handluggage 

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