Black listing for 'budget' fares airline

Travellers searching for cheap flights to Riga be warned: Latvians national airline AirBaltic, which claims to offer cheap fares to the capital and Vilnius, has been rapped by the European Union, this week for not being upfront and clear about the true cost of its flights on its website.

In a damming report the EU revealed that 12 airlines, including AirBaltic, had misleading pricing polices on their website, disguised the final cost to be paid until the very end of the booking process, put fares in different currencies, and ran advertisements for low-fares that clearly did not exist.

The EU began its investigation into online purchasing in 2007 in an attempt to make sure that customers who book tickets via websites are getting a fair deal. Airline bookings on the net have experienced a phenomenal growth in recent years and the EUs enforcement investigation set out to help regulate the carriers websites.

AirBalitc and the other 11 airlines are on the blacklist as the worst offenders, because they gave no guarantees that they would change their websites to make their costs more transparent. Other airlines, including Ryanair which also offers flights to Riga, were criticized but promised to improve their websites.

Talking about the investigation, EU Consumer Protection Commissioner Meglena Juneva said: "There is no room for complacency; there is more work to be done," she said. "But this first pan-European enforcement investigation has shown it has real teeth and can deliver. The next step is an industry wide agreement, and we will continue to monitor developments in the sector closely."

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Sean O'Donnell from Latvia Reply May 28th, 2009

Air Baltic are guilty as charged. As one who flies every week across Europe on account of my work I can definitely say Air Baltic mislead passengers with the headline fare and on top of that I find their customer service appalling. I am still waiting to join the corporate club after a year of submitting the application and I am still waiting for a letter of apology concerning damage to a suitcase. THe staff training is certainly not up to scratch and this is not based on looking for faults but actual events where cabin crew are just behaving like mutes. Communication skills need to be developed but as long as the managemnt consider thmselves aloof and not wrong nothing will change. One hopes that Riga airport can attract airlines back in order to give customers choice value for money and therefore more business for the airport.