The Aer Lingus UK homepage included a “Web Offers” section which listed several destinations from London. One of the offers stated:
“Flights from London Gatwick to Belfast”
When the link was clicked on it brought the user to a webpage with the headline:
“Cheap flights from London Gatwick to Belfast”
Two graphs showed various fares by date for the return journey.
Once a date was selected the following text appeared:
“Selected Cheap Flights” followed by the price and flight details. The details presented to the complainant were as follows:
“Price Origin Destination Flight No. passenger
(subject to availability) Date
£29.18 London Gatwick (LGW) Belfast City (BHD) 21 Feb 2013(sic) 2
Price Origin Destination Flight No Passenger
(Subject to availability) Date
Belfast City(BHD) London Gatwick (LGW) 22 Feb 2013(sic) 2
The complainant viewed the offer of an outward journey from London Gatwick to Belfast City at £29.18 and the return journey at £21.79. He wished to book at this rate so he clicked the ‘Book Now’ button and selected the return flight. He then noted that the advertised cheapest fares from the graph were not available and higher prices were quoted in his fare summary. As the ‘cheapest fares’ were not available to him he considered that the advertising was misleading.
Aer Lingus stated that all their fares are advertised on an each way basis including taxes and charges and all fares are subject to terms, conditions and availability. They said that this was stated clearly in all terms and conditions of their advertisements and on their website.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. The Committee considered that the offer page that featured the graph showing the cheapest available fares for each date had given the complainant an expectation of the availability of the fares at a particular price. In view of the fact that the fares were then not available to the complainant and the advertiser had not provided any substantiation that the fares had been available, the Committee considered that the advertising was in breach of Sections 2.9 and 2.24 of the Code.
The Complaints Committee advised Aer Lingus that they should ensure that they can show that seats are available at the price advertised.