Scandal of 'hidden' cost of flying

An article in our 'Roving Eye' column yesterday has sparked off a storm about what are being dubbed 'hidden' costs of flying, with steep charges being added to what are advertised as 'cheap fares.'

The article referred to an elderly couple who had booked a one-way flight for a total of ?59.98. "But as further information was being laid before them, their pleasure soon started to melt away," it said.

This was because to the 'cheap fare' you have to add ?10 as air passenger duty, plus ?15.32 for insurance and fuel supplement.

And that was not all. There was an additional ?26.54 as passenger service charge and then a credit card fee of ?4.05.

So, the one-way fare that was originally advertised at ?59.98 for the couple ended up costing ?116.79 - no less than a close 95% surcharge!

This raises questions as to whether the authorities should not stop such unfair and misleading advertising.

People have been asking PANORAMA if there is no consumer protection in Gibraltar, and if there is, what is being done about it?

While some advertising includes, in the smallest of print, that the fare is exclusive of surchages etc, it is still seen as unfair, as the thrust is on the supposedly 'cheap fare', which many people think is what they will pay. "But what you see is not what you pay," said someone who was not amused.

Others have come forward with similar sad stories.

A reader, David Gilson, has put pen to paper and sent us a letter which appears on page 5.He had booked to travel to the UK. "Imagine my surprise when I checked back exactly one month later, only to find that the costs of the two flights had increased by an amazing ?260 - that is a staggering 81% on the original fare!"

Clearly, there is concern about what is going on. The public would expect a small surcharge for some tax or other, but when the total surcharges are sky high, that is seen as something else.

At the centre of it all is the advertising, which gives the general impression that a 'cheap fare' is cheap - but not after you include all the add-ons!

"What is being done about it?" that was the principal question asked.