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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 September, 2003, 18:00 GMT 19:00 UK
Crackdown on travel 'extras'
Airport security
Security charges of 7 to 9 are now levied on each traveller
Tour operators must include airline security charges within their basic brochure prices, the UK trading watchdog has said.

The charges, typically between 7 and 9 per person, were introduced following the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 to cover higher security and insurance costs.

But the Association of British Travel Agents (Abta), which represents tour operators and travel agents, now wants the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to impose similar rules on budget carrier Ryanair.

It has written to complain about Ryanair's advertising strategy and its recent 2m "free" flight offer.

Brochure warning

Travel agents' brochures have carried details of the security charge but, in some cases, they have not been included in the basic price.

Abta is obviously a few days short of a good holiday
Ryanair statement

According to travel regulations, non-optional charges should always be included in the price of a package holiday.

And Abta said there was now plenty of time to make the changes before next summer's brochures appeared on the High Street in December.

But the travel agents' organisation says it is "unfair" that tour operators were now having to include charges within their headline prices, while other companies are not obliged to.

"We are having to put all our charges into the headline prices, and Ryanair isn't," said an Abta spokesman.

The OFT recently acquired powers to enforce the Consumer Protection Act 1987, which states there should be no misleading "price indications", for example, in advertising to consumers.

Any non-optional extras should be shown in the price, not shown as additions, unless they are payable by only some consumers.

In essence, this means providing that everybody has to pay the same charges, all extras should be included in the price advertised.

In a statement, Ryanair said it was clear that its recent free offers excluded taxes, fees and charges.

It said: "Abta is obviously a few days short of a good holiday and should have grabbed some of our 2 million free seats before the offer expired.

"Our advertising clearly states our free offer excludes taxes, fees and charges. Hundreds of thousands of consumers booked their free seats and there hasn't been a single complaint."

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