Airline seat sales. Is it just me or are you fed up with the small print and fees?
Here they go again.
The papers today are full of ads for airline deals. Air Canada, for one, shows a deal from Toronto to London Heathrow for $199 from January 26 to April 3.
A good deal. But, wait. There's some small print (I know, hard to believe) that says "fares are each way" and "require round trip purchase."
Hmmm. Oh, okay. So, it's not really $199. It's actually $398. Pretty good, you say to yourself.
But what's that little bit in the next sentence? Yeah, that one, the one that says "Fares displayed do not include fuel surcharge of up to $150 ech way."
$150 EACH WAY? That means perhaps $300 in total? Okay, maybe the flight is $698.
Being the natural sleuth that I am, I went on the Air Canada web site today and tried to book a flight for London for late February, thus avoiding March break. I looked for a Friday or Saturday or Sunday departure, but found the only valid dates for leaving Toronto if I wanted the sale price were Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. Not a word about that in the MAIN PART of the ad, but down at the bottom in tiny type it does say that "day-of-week restrictions may apply."
MAY apply? MAY apply? How about in large type saying "DAY OF THE WEEK RESTRICTIONS MOST DEFINITELY APPLY, SUCKERS! HA, HA, HA!"
I tried booking a departure for Monday, Feb. 21, with a return the following Monday. I got it for $398, which is kinda what was advertised.
But the taxes and fees and surcharges came out to $468.19. I thought the ad said the extras were "up to $150 each way."
But then I realized that's only the FUEL surcharge. There's also taxes and lord only knows what else. So it's not $300 in extra fees, it's $468. Which is, what, 17.6 per cent higher than the actual air fare?
This is covered in the fine print, of course. It clearly says fares dont' include taxes or fees. It also warns of second bag fees, which means my $868.19 might be higher if I want to take my golf clubs or some warm sweaters.
I'm not saying $868.19 to cross the ocean and back is highway robbery. It's probably a reasonable fare in a supply and demand world given labour costs and fuel costs and security, etc... And I don't blame Air Canada for these ads, really. Everyone does them in the airline biz. It's rampant.
But that doesn't make it right. What I want to know is, what is our government doing about this? In the U.S. they come out with laws to protect consumers. They come up with laws so people don't get left on airplanes for hours at a time? Us, we get Stephen Harper protecting Air Canada so hard from a couple of Emirates Airlines flights that he pisses off a loyal Mideast ally of ours, and there aren't too many of those, are there?
I don't think it would matter, as most folks can't afford the gas for a trip to Chatham, let alone worry about fairness in advertising for flights to Europe, but I'd love to see one of our major political parties come out on this issue and try to get some reasonable rules for airline advertising and make them skip the fine print/fuel surcharge/days of the week restriction mumbo jumbo.
I mean, it's like that great Ally commercial where the fancy banker tries to tell that poor, sad-faced kid about the extra handling charges.
Honestly, the way the airlines structure their airfares is ludicrous. It'd be like going to Tim Hortons and seeing a sign that says "small coffee, 21 cents" and then paying 23 cents for the cup, 28 cents for the creme and sugar (god forbid you order a double-double) and then fork out another quarter for a "hot beverage pouring fee."
Not that I want to give the coffee industry any ideas....