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EU says airline Websites improving

THE European Union says airline Websites have fewer hidden prices and conditions than they did two years ago, making it easier for customers to find the best deals.

It says 115 of the 137 airline Websites it investigated - after a preliminary screening of 447 sites - have cleared up misleading information and that 52 of 67 major airlines operating in the European Union now have a "clean bill of health."

EU Consumer Commissioner Meglena Kuneva said three major holdouts, KLM, Air France and British Airways, promised yesterday they would fall into line with the EU standards.

The standards have been agreed to with the airline industry. It is up to national authorities to impose penalties but the EU hopes public exposure will be the best deterrent to unsatisfactory practices.

Kuneva said several airlines did not cooperate with the EU Commission, including Aeroflot, Emirates, Northwest, Olympic Airlines and Turkish Airlines. "They never gave us a reply," she said.

Over the past two years, the EU has approached airlines and travel Websites to tackle "hidden charges, pre-ticked boxes and nasty surprises in the small print of airline Websites," Kuneva said.

She said it was essential during the financial crisis to be able to pick the best deal.

"Especially in these hard times, people need transparent prices. They need to be able to compare offers, shop around," she told reporters.

Customer complaints about misleading bargain fares triggered the probe, the EU said. Hefty charges and government taxes were often not part of the advertised price.


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