Misrepresentation of Fuel Surcharges in Airline Price Advertising with Xiaoxiao Wu

Air travel tickets often include surprisingly large amounts described as “tax.” In one round trip New York-Paris ticket we quoted in January 2012, the fare was listed as $230 while “tax” was listed as $598.14 — fully 72% of the listed total. If government taxes were actually as large as Air France claims, many passengers might want to complain to responsible politicians and regulators. And passengers might have a different view of cramped seating, unpalatable food, or other service shortfalls on a $230 ticket versus a $828.14 ticket. But in fact, specifically contrary to Air France’s characterization of $598.14 as “tax,” the majority of the “tax” was not charged by any government, airport, or similar authority, and rather was retained by Air France to defray its ordinary operating expenses.

Our investigation uncovers a variety of examples in which airlines have mischaracterized various surcharges as “tax” and otherwise failed to satisfy applicable price advertising regulation. We present proof in both screenshots and recorded telephone calls, preserving clear records of carriers’ misrepresentations. Details:

Misrepresentation of Fuel Surcharges in Airline Price Advertising