EU Says Online Travel Sites Misleading

    May 8, 2008

A third of European consumers are being misled or ripped off by Web sites selling airline tickets, according to EU Consumer Commissioner Meglena Kuneva.

"It is unacceptable that one in three consumers going to book a plane ticket online is being ripped off or misled and confused," Kuneva told a news conference.

"But my message to industry is clear, act now or we will act. We will need to see credible evidence of improvement to clean up these sales and marketing practices within the airline sector by May 1st next year or we will be left with no choice but to intervene."

Kuneva was speaking after the release of a report of an investigation by Brussels into misleading advertising and unfair practices on airline ticket selling Web sites. The investigation revealed that over half of the 226 Web sites found to have broken EU consumer rules last November had not addressed their problems.

Many sites had multiple problems including pre-selcting the most expensive option, misleading pricing, unfair contract terms and advertising offers which were unavailable.

"This report shows there are serious and persistent problems with ticket sales throughout the airline industry as a whole," Kuneva said.