Which? warns consumers over Ryanair ‘rip-off’ currency tactic

Mark Johnson's picture

Which? is warning travellers not to get caught out by Ryanair’s rip-off currency conversion pricing tactics this summer and is calling on the aviation regulator to take action to finally clamp down on the practice.

The consumer champion’s latest research has revealed that in one instance a family of four faced being charged an extra £30 by paying for their flight using Ryanair’s “dynamic currency conversion”.

Currency cover up

Customers are faced with this system when Ryanair displays the price of a ticket in the currency of the departure airport. For instance, if a customer is buying a flight from France or Italy back to the UK, the fare is advertised in euros.

However, when prompting the customer to enter card details at the very end of the booking journey, it switches the price into pounds – automatically applying an exchange rate.

Only after clicking “more information” do customers find the option to opt out of paying in pounds and revert to euros. 

Ryanair warns that opting out could end up costing “significantly more”.

But this was far from the case in the flights that Which? Travel examined.

Spot check

In a spot check, Which? Travel found a journey from Alicante to London Stansted for a family of four advertised as €565.81. But at the point of paying, Ryanair switched the currency to pounds. The total fare became £526.97, an exchange rate of 93p per euro.

On the same day, Visa had an exchange rate of 88p per euro. This meant that if the customer opted out they would have paid just £496.72 for the same flight – £30 less than with Ryanair’s currency exchange.

Among the other family fares Which? Travel analysed, one from Venice to Stansted cost an extra £26.40, while a journey from Nice to the same airport added an extra £21 when the currency conversion was applied.

A single adult fare from Berlin to London would have cost £235.29 with Ryanair’s exchange rates – compared to £221.78 with Visa. That’s a difference of more than £13.

Inflated fares

Across all the journeys that Which? Travel examined, Ryanair’s derisory exchange rates inflated its fares by around six per cent on average. Aer Lingus was the only other major carrier to automatically switch currencies at the check-out, although Aer Lingus makes this switch – and the cost implications – much more clear. Which? found that the price of one flight with Aer Lingus increased by 3.5 per cent when paying through dynamic currency conversion.

Which? has previously reported Ryanair’s use of dynamic currency conversion to the Civil Aviation Authority, and this is the third time it has found the airline automatically opting in passengers to its terrible currency conversion rates. The consumer champion believes the tactic is misleading and could be in breach of consumer protection legislation, specifically due to the opaque way it presents the rate to customers.

With the Civil Aviation Authority preparing to publish a report that will criticise airlines for failing to clearly spell out the true price of travel at the end of this month, Which? believes the report should single out Ryanair’s currency conversion tactic and clamp down on the practice so that the airline is not able to continue ripping-off their customers in this way.

“This cynical and misleading pricing trick is one of the clearest examples of a rip-off we have seen – but Ryanair has been allowed to get away with it due to a lack of action from the Civil Aviation Authority”, Caroline Normand, Which? Director of Advocacy said.

“If the regulator is committed to helping improve the experience of passengers, it must clamp down on this practice before thousands more holidaymakers are caught out this summer.”

Un-fare: How Which? described pricing at the budget airline

On the same day, Visa had an exchange rate of 88p per euro. This meant that if the customer opted out they would have paid just £496.72 for the same flight – £30 less than with Ryanair’s currency exchange.

Among the other family fares Which? Travel analysed, one from Venice to Stansted cost an extra £26.40, while a journey from Nice to the same airport added an extra £21 when the currency conversion was applied.

A single adult fare from Berlin to London would have cost £235.29 with Ryanair’s exchange rates – compared to £221.78 with Visa. That’s a difference of more than £13.

Inflated fares

Across all the journeys that Which? Travel examined, Ryanair’s derisory exchange rates inflated its fares by around six per cent on average. Aer Lingus was the only other major carrier to automatically switch currencies at the check-out, although Aer Lingus makes this switch – and the cost implications – much more clear. Which? found that the price of one flight with Aer Lingus increased by 3.5 per cent when paying through dynamic currency conversion.

Which? has previously reported Ryanair’s use of dynamic currency conversion to the Civil Aviation Authority, and this is the third time it has found the airline automatically opting in passengers to its terrible currency conversion rates. The consumer champion believes the tactic is misleading and could be in breach of consumer protection legislation, specifically due to the opaque way it presents the rate to customers.

With the Civil Aviation Authority preparing to publish a report that will criticise airlines for failing to clearly spell out the true price of travel at the end of this month, Which? believes the report should single out Ryanair’s currency conversion tactic and clamp down on the practice so that the airline is not able to continue ripping-off their customers in this way.

“This cynical and misleading pricing trick is one of the clearest examples of a rip-off we have seen – but Ryanair has been allowed to get away with it due to a lack of action from the Civil Aviation Authority”, Caroline Normand, Which? Director of Advocacy said.

“If the regulator is committed to helping improve the experience of passengers, it must clamp down on this practice before thousands more holidaymakers are caught out this summer.”

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