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Advertiser: Aer Lingus
Medium: Internet (Company Website)
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 2.4(c), 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10, 4.27, 4.28(a), 4.28(b)
The Latest Offers section of the Aer Lingus website provided details of the Aer Lingus January Sale.
“Travel: 01 April – 30 September 2018
The Aer Lingus January Sale is here! Get up to 50% off summer 2018 flights to Europe.
Don’t miss out!
Up to 50% off from Dublin”
Underneath was a list of European destinations and the price of the fare which included the following:
“Frankfurt DE EUR39.99”
The complainant wished to avail of the advertised fare to Frankfurt and noted that the travel dates were listed as between the 1st of April and the 30th of September. The complainant said that he was a weekly commuter to Frankfurt and had tried to avail of the advertised fare for travel from the 1st of May, however, he could only find seats available at the ‘from’ price of €39.99 for travel in April. He said that as he was a weekly commuter he was aware that an earlier promotion had already offered seats at the same price for travel in April which he had purchased. He therefore considered that the advertising was misleading as there were no seats available at the advertised ‘from’ price in the months May to September.
The advertisers said that the offer advertised was ‘up to 50% off’ for the period 1st April to 30th September. They said that on the landing page the lowest available fare on each route for the travel period was pulled through dynamically onto the page, therefore, as one fare sells out, the next lowest fare would appear for each route. They said that in this case, the lowest fare available on the Dublin to Frankfurt route for that period was €39.99 and this fare was only available for flights to Frankfurt in the month of April.
The advertisers said that while the fares to Frankfurt for travel between May and September were all higher than €39.99, they were discounted at up to 50% off, which they said was the offer being advertised. They said that the terms and conditions at the bottom of the landing page stated that the offer was “Subject to terms, conditions and availability. Limited availability during holiday and other peak travel periods including Bank Holidays, school holidays and sporting events”.
In relation to the percentage of seats per month that were available at the advertised price, the advertisers said that seats at the advertised price of €39.99 were only available for travel during the month of April and that 12% of fares during that month were priced at €39.99.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. While the Committee noted that the offer was advertising an “Up to 50% off” promotion on flights from Dublin to various destinations within Europe and that fares for travel in each month of the travel period had included a discount that was ‘up to 50%’, the fare advertised on the webpage had not stated that it was a “from” fare. The Committee considered that had it included the word “from”, consumers would have been alerted to the fact that the advertised fare was a base fare that may not be available during all the promotional period. The Committee considered that the omission of the word “from” had created an expectation that the advertised fare of €39.99 would be available throughout the promotional travel period.
The Committee also noted that the advertised fare had only been available during one month of a promotional period that covered 6 months. While the 12% availability of the advertised fare had exceeded the 10% minimum limit set by the Committee in an earlier adjudication, that adjudication had stated that “at least 10% of tickets should be available at the lead-in price”. As the Committee had not seen evidence that at least 10% of tickets across the six months of promotion had been available at the lead-in price they considered that the advertising was in breach of Sections 4.1, 4.4 and 4.28 (a) and (b).
The advertising must not reappear in its current form.
The Committee told the advertisers to ensure that if they were advertising similar offers in the future, they should ensure that the base fare is clearly marked as a ‘from’ fare and that the minimum availability limit set by the Committee is available over the course of the advertised promotional period for that route.