airlines agree to an ‘opt in’ model for extra charges
The Australian consumer regulator, the Australian
Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) has obtained the
agreement of Virgin Australia, Jetstar Airways and Tigerair
Australia to change their online booking models for adding
The airlines have agreed to change from a pre-selected (‘opt
out’) model to a selected (‘opt in’) model for extra charges
for checked baggage, seat selection and travel insurance in
the online booking process. Note that Qantas Airways does
not have pre-selected extra charges on its online booking
Examples of ‘opt in’ and
‘opt out’ choices for extra charges
Virgin Australia has adopted a ‘opt in’ model for
In the online booking process, extra checked baggage, carbon
offset, car hire and travel insurance are available for
purchase. They are added to the fare by using the [Select]
Jetstar Airways has a mixture of choices until 1 July
2017. Examples of ‘opt out’ choices are checked baggage and
travel insurance. Extra charges for these are added to the
fare unless the [Remove X] button is clicked. Jetstar has a
mandatory field, which is neither ‘opt in’ nor ‘opt out’. It
is a carbon offset charge where the consumer must either
click [yes] or click [no] before proceeding with the
What are the ACCC’s
concerns with the pre-selection (the ‘opt out’) model?
The ACCC’s concerns with pre-selection are based on the fact
that the booking process is not transparent in terms of the
air fare payable.
Jetstar’s disclosure in the booking process that: “Some
products and services throughout our booking process have
been pre-selected for your convenience” is considered to be
misleading by the ACCC because of its lack of price
transparency for consumers, who find out about extras added
to their airfares at various stages during the booking
How will the ACCC will
enforce ‘opt in’ pricing for online air travel bookings?
The ACCC will require ‘opt in’ pricing for all
domestic and international airlines operating in
In its Media Release, ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said:
The ACCC will continue to engage with the remaining
domestic airlines that still pre-select extras, and urge
them to follow suit.
The ACCC will also turn its attention to international
airlines operating within Australia which continue to
Does the ‘opt in’ model include mandatory fields?
The ACCC has not given guidance as to whether the use of
mandatory fields is acceptable, as an alternative to the
[Select] button for the ‘opt in’ model.
Some guidance can be derived from the use of the
expression ‘pre-select’ by the ACCC. It implies that the
‘mandatory field’ model as used by Jetstar for carbon
offsets where the consumer must click either [yes] or
[no] is acceptable.
This interpretation would be in line with the views of
the Commerce Commission New Zealand which has stated
when dealing with this issue:
Consumers are perfectly capable of deciding for
themselves whether they want to pay for additional
products or services. If a company is concerned that its
customers need insurance then a suitable approach is to
require them to tick ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in a mandatory field
and leave it in their hands.