Airline Mischaracterization of Fuel Surcharges: LOT Polish Airlines

Aviation Consumer Protection - Misrepresentation of Fuel Surcharges in Airline Price Advertising - Benjamin Edelman and Xiaoxiao Wu

Fuel surcharges are imposed by air carriers of their own volition, not required by any government, regulator, airline, or similar authority. However, Air France has systematically mischaracterized these fuel surcharges as “tax.”

See the test booking shown in Figure 1. In testing of February 25, 2013, we requested an ordinary paid coach ticket LHR-WAW-JFK on the LOT Poland Airlines web site. LOT quoted a fare of "flights" costing $525 plus “taxes” of $550.13. Clicking the hyperlink labeled “taxes” yielded the window shown in Figure 2.

Figure 1: LOT falsely claims $550.13 of "taxes"

LOT falsely claims $550.13 of 'taxes' when in fact $314 is 'surcharge' that is not a tax

Figure 2: LOT admits that $314 of the "taxes" is actually a "surcharge" -- yet LOT then reiterates that this is a "tax" in the bottom of the itemization ("total taxes")

LOT admits that $314 of the 'taxes' is actually a 'surcharge' -- yet LOT then reiterates that this is a 'tax' in the bottom of the itemization ('total taxes')