Italy’s Antitrust Authority (AGCM) has fined the two low-cost airline companies Ryanair e Wizz Air 3 million and 1 million euros respectively for unfair business practice, as in the regulator’s opinion, changes to their policies on hand baggage mislead consumers about real ticket prices.
As revealed by the investigations opened last September and October, both airline carriers changed their cabin baggage policies at the expense of customers on 1st November 2018.
Both companies now allow passengers to carry one small bag which has to fit under the seat in front of them, significantly reducing their leg room, while stowing baggage in the overhead bins has become an extra fee paying service.
The investigations have shown that almost all passengers usually expect to travel with cabin baggage.
In a statement AGCM argued that hand baggage was an essential part of the service and its transport must be permitted without incurring added baggage fees. In fact, also on the basis of the European regulation on air transport, foreseeable and unavoidable supplements for extra services must be included in the basic upfront price of the service and therefore cannot be separated from this with the request for further sums.
So, by imposing an additional charge for the extra large hand baggage, which varies from 5 to 25 euros, the two carriers have raised their ticket prices in a non-trasparent manner and excluded from the basic price an essential service considered foreseeable and unavoidable for almost all passengers.
Hence the deception for consumers, as almost always the price to be paid at the end of the booking process will be higher than the upfront price that appealed to the consumer at the beginning of the process. In addition, this policy also makes it difficult for consumers to compare costs with other carriers whose prices include the cost of cabin baggage.
Both companies will have 60 days to inform the Authority about the measures adopted to comply with its decision.