A LoyaltyLobby reader emailed me a case that he had with Cathay Pacific’s non-disclosure of tax/fuel surcharge inclusive fares on Cathay’s US website.
The reader had been searching for fares from Maldives to Chicago and there is a small footnote that the taxes and carrier imposed surcharges are not included.
When you first enter Cathay Pacific’s website, you must first choose the country/region.
When you choose United States, it is prominently disclosed on the upper right on the website.
The taxes and carrier imposed surcharges are excluded per the footnote.
The next page shows the preferred flights and there is still a footnote that fees/surcharges are excluded.
When you get to the third page, the fuel surcharge and taxes are disclosed.
When you click he question mark you get a small pop up with the explanation of the fee.
So the LoyaltyLobby reader was not satisfied with this disclosure that he believed to be in violation of DOT’s rule that requires airlines to disclose the all inclusive price up front and filed a consumer complaint with DOT.
The DOT responded and believed that this could be in fact a violation. On follow-up to the complaint, CX sent the following:
We are grateful you brought this matter to our attention and we acknowledge receipt of your complaint. We are investigating this matter and shall provide you with our response to the complaint within 60 days following the receipt of your complaint.
In the meantime, in light of your experience and as a gesture of our goodwill, we would like to reimburse you for USD524.10 that you paid as taxes and carrier imposed charges. Attached please find a Payment Reply Form which is to be filled by you and returned to me at your earliest convenience with your payment details and we shall follow up accordingly. As this process takes 2-3 weeks your patience in the interim will be greatly appreciated.
Cathay Pacific is committed to complying with US DOT regulations with respect to fare advertising and to exceed the expectations of our customers in providing an excellent reservations experience. We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.
We hope the foregoing is of assistance. Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can do anything further to enhance your experience with Cathay Pacific.
Cathay Pacific replied that they would refund the entire taxes and fees as a “courtesy” without admitting that they would be in violation.
When you choose the Cathay’s website for the United States, you would believe that the presented fares would be all inclusive, but that does not seems to be the case. Cathay’s air fares originating from the US are displayed including taxes/fees, however.
I am glad that the reader was able to recover these non-displayed charges from Cathay Pacific. I wish that all countries would have legislation in place that would require airlines to display and advertise fares that are all inclusive. I absolutely hate the “teaser” fares that are often published in Asia that are only fraction of the fare when all the taxes and especially fuel surcharges are added.