Travelhouse UK has been criticised by the advertising watchdog after a consumer queried whether a return flight advertised for £355.67 was actually available.
The Advertising Standards Authority upheld a complaint against the company and banned the advert which appeared on its website in June.
Travelhouse UK argued that search results were retrieved from two GDSs and the price shown at the time would be valid and could be booked.
But the ASA ruled that Travelhouse UK must ensure it held “adequate substantiation” to show that quoted prices were based on genuine rates available.
“We also told them to describe prices as ‘from’ and clearly present that they were subject to limited availability if that was the case, and to state when prices were last updated, when those prices were subject to change and to have processes in place to make sure prices were updated frequently and when they were no longer available to promptly withdraw or amend their advertising,” the ASA said.
Alternative Airlines was also sanctioned for hiking the price of a flight by an extra £100 after telling a customer that the original price was no longer available.
The complaint was made in July about an online fare of £762.40 for a flight with Tianjin Airlines which was raised to £852.40 later the same day when a customer service agent went to ticket the booking.
The customer was informed and offered an alternative to a full refund.
The company argued that it could not control the ticketing time limits that the carrier imposed on its booking through Amadeus.
However, the ASA said it considered that a link to the terms and conditions “was not sufficient to override the overall impression that the flight was available at the price stated”.
Upholding the compliant, the ASA said: “Because the ad suggested that the flight was available and at a specific price but there was a risk of the flight becoming unavailable at that price after a customer had paid, we concluded the ad was misleading.
“The ad must not appear again in the form complained about. We told Alternative Airlines to ensure their price statements did not mislead by advertising prices that they could not supply with certainty to their customers after bookings had been made.”
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