Fuel & Other Surcharges

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Most airlines buy their fuel at least 2 years in advance to take advantage of the best prevailing fuel rates. Yet airlines consistently increase their fuel surcharges irrespective of actual fuel price. Historically airlines have always included the fuel within the price of the ticket.

It is not an add-on: you can’t fly a plane without fuel. Wouldn’t it be easy if the advertised fare was the amount you paid for your flight? But it rarely is today, especially with “low cost” airlines, a plethora of additional charges, “extras” and hidden fees are added on so that by the time you come to paying, your flight can cost more than 3 times the advertised price.

Like never before today’s traveller has to pick up the “extras” tab with hidden Q-taxes, fuel surcharges, peak period surcharges and paper ticket charges to name a few and even a “no show” fee if you decide not to turn up without cancelling your seat that you paid for.

Most Airlines also will not refund fuel surcharges when you don’t fly. Despite the fact that when cancelled passengers don’t fly they are not using any fuel.

Many airlines will stop at nothing to find an excuse to charge you. A lot of these stealth charges are not only unjustifiable but in many cases illegal. In May 2010 Mr Jim Poyner, a Canadian lawyer started a class action against taxes on tickets that are hidden fees. Jayne Seyd of North Shore News wrote on May 19, 2010

“A North Vancouver lawyer has launched a class action lawsuit against an international airline over its practice of charging hidden extra fees and describing them as ‘taxes.’

“Jim Poyner of North Vancouver’s Poyner Baxter filed the suit in B.C. Supreme Court against British Airways and is in the process of filing additional suits against Air Canada and Lufthansa. But Poyner said the legal issue extends to most airlines that fly to overseas destinations from Canadian cities. He said he expects to file suits against 10 more airlines very soon.

“With only one or two exceptions, the airlines charge their customers fees described on the ticket as “taxes”– which can sometimes amount to several hundred dollars. Poyner said most of the ‘taxes’ aren’t taxes being charged by governments at all — but simply fuel surcharges or other fees added and pocketed by the airline. Poyner said that’s deceiving the public by hiding the true cost of the fare, and breaking the law under B.C.’s Consumer Protection Act.

“He said KLM and Northwest are among the few airlines that don’t charge the hidden fees.

“According to the legal suit filed by Poyner, one woman who flew from Vancouver to Turkey paid British Airways almost $970 for her ticket fare, plus $450 in “taxes.

” But the portion of the “tax” that was simply an additional airline charge was $326″, said Poyner.

“The fees aren’t charged to customers who fly internationally with the airlines out of the U.S., he said, because the American government “would not allow them to cover up their fees this way.” In Canada, “there are too many people who are prepared to just put up with it.”

“Ken Baxter, Poyner’s law partner, added “It’s often difficult for travellers to unravel what they’re being charged for, as airport fees for both Vancouver International Airport and destination airports in foreign countries are usually lumped in with “taxes and charges.

“No one knows what they are,” he said of the legitimate airport fees. “It really buries it from the consumer’s point of view”.

Poyner said if the lawsuit gets certified as a class action suit and he is successful, it could mean the airlines would be forced to pay back their customers a significant chunk of money.”

This article illustrates only one of the many occurrences of airline foul play at the expense of the traveller in Canada alone. We at ATAB believe such practices are wrong. We intend to take action against such practices. Below are just some of the stealth revenues on the air traveller we intend to fight:

-Disproportionate fuel surcharges that are in some cases 40 times more than in the past when compared with actual fuel prices, (fuel surcharges that were originally introduced due to actual real unforeseen spikes in fuel prices and not as a standard practice).

-Tricks used on carry hand baggage such as awkward fitting grids. You might be able to fly out to one destination with no problem, but find on your return flight your same piece of hand luggage no longer fits the grid, resulting in a charge.

-A large variety of inexplicable charges that have always been included in your ticket, such as a surcharge to check in baggage or expensive charges to change your name on a ticket, a process that quite literally takes seconds and no cost to implement.

 

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