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Flight booking: BGH prohibits hidden costs on online portals


Free payment only with a special credit card? The judges at the Federal Court of Justice have rejected this scam from a travel portal. Providers also need to ensure more transparency when it comes to baggage costs.

Enlarge image

Travelers at Frankfurt Airport: more transparency for consumers?

Photo: Ralph Peters / imago images / Ralph Peters

When booking flights on the Internet, consumers must not be referred to the portal's own credit card as the only free payment option.

This emerges from a now published ruling by the Federal Court of Justice (BGH), which the Federal Association of Consumer Organizations (vzbv) won in August.

The consumer advocates were also successful in a second point: Extra costs for checking in a piece of baggage must be displayed when booking the flight, even if the service can only be booked later in a separate process.

The vzbv had conducted the proceedings against the Leipzig flight broker Travel24.

A credit card sold free of charge by Travel24 and a bank was preset as the means of payment on its booking portal.

This was automatically linked to a discount, which eliminated the "service fee" that was actually due.

If the customer chose a different payment method, the discount was no longer applicable - the booking increased by around 40 euros for a return flight.

In the opinion of the BGH, a fee is inadmissibly charged for all common means of payment.

The trick with the discount does nothing to change that: "From the customer's point of view, the declared total price is primarily important," write the Karlsruhe judges.

Here the impression arises that this would increase by choosing a different payment method.

The consumer advice centers had also complained that test bookings only indicated that the flight price did not include a free baggage allowance.

The amount of the possible surcharge was not found out.

According to the BGH, such extra costs must be stated at the same time - even if the baggage check-in can be booked separately online later or even only at the airport.

"An effective comparability of prices is only guaranteed."

With its decision, the Federal Court of Justice confirmed a judgment of the Dresden Higher Regional Court from February 2020.

File number: X ZR 23/20

mic / dpa-AFX

Source: spiegel

All business articles on 2021-09-25

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