YEP, it’s true, our Kiwi neighbours are doing something better than us.
They are refusing to put up with one of the most irritating things about booking flights these days: those pesky preselected boxes that could end up making your ticket a lot more expensive.
Jetstar has agreed to drop the use of preselected “opt-out” services when selling airline tickets online after New Zealand’s Commerce Commission concluded there were grounds to prosecute the Qantas Airways subsidiary under the Fair Trading Act.
The airline had held out as other companies fell into line with the regulator last year, including rival Air New Zealand, House of Travel, Dash Tickets, Ticket Direct and Naked Bus.
Consumer NZ had also campaigned to end the practice. The use of pre-ticked boxes in online booking forms added extras that some travellers may not have wanted, such as insurance.
Having concluded its investigation into Jetstar, the commission was prepared to take court proceedings, chairman Mark Berry said.
Jetstar has been issued with a formal warning over its behaviour.
“It is pleasing Jetstar has now changed its stance and agreed to stop preselecting optional services on its website, avoiding the need for costly and time-consuming litigation,” he said.
“The commission has made its position on this issue very clear and traders can be assured we will take enforcement action to stop this type of conduct in the future.”
Under the formal agreement signed this week, Jetstar has made court enforceable undertakings to change its conduct on its website by April 30 and not to reintroduce opt-out charges in future, he said.
Consumer NZ last year said Jetstar’s booking process meant travel insurance, seats and baggage were preselected as extras, which would have added $NZ42.95 ($38.29) to the cost of a return flight from Auckland to Wellington, in addition to credit card charges.
It’s a practice also under fire in Australia, with Choice spokesman Tom Godfrey saying: “We welcome the decision by New Zealand’s Commerce Commission to take action against Jetstar, effectively banning the airline’s practice of pre-ticking optional extras.
“While this is a great win for Kiwi consumers, Aussies will still have to navigate around Jetstar’s unfair booking practice.”
Catriona Larritt, Chief Commercial Officer, Jetstar Group, said: “Jetstar customers are very savvy and know how to get value out of their travel with us. By offering just a seat and giving customers the option to add extras like checked baggage it helps keep our fares as low as possible and gives customers the choice to add what they want.
“In New Zealand, we are the only low fares airline operating there domestically so at the request of the local regulator we have changed our booking process. Like many other airlines flying in and out of Australia, we will continue preselecting a small number of key extras for customers. These items remain clearly identified and easy to deselect.
“If customers don’t want to buy preselected products they just click a button and continue with their booking which many of our customers choose to do.”