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Photo: Recaro Aircraft Seating

Airlines under fire for ‘deceiving’ passengers

A government minister for digital commerce has accused airlines of deceiving families to get them to pay more to sit together.

Airlines are “hoodwinking” families into paying more to be able to sit together on flights, according to a government minister for digital commerce in the UK.

Carriers are exploiting families through the algorithmic allocation of airline seats, Margot James, minister of state for digital and creative industries, said.

The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority is currently making a review of allocated seating after finding that passengers are “unnecessarily” spending up to £175 million (€197 million) a year on fees and additional charges.

Speaking to a parliamentary communications committee, James branded the software used by airlines a “cynical, exploitative means… to hoodwink the general public”, The Times and TTG report.

“Some airlines have set an algorithm to identify passengers of the same surname travelling together,” she explained. “They’ve had the temerity to split the passengers up, and when the family want to travel together they are charged more.”

Data ethics
A new Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation is being set up by the government to investigate where clearer guidelines are needed to regulate the use of data and data-enabled technologies.

Passengers are spending between £74 million and £175 million a year to sit together when they may not necessarily have to, the aviation authority reported earlier this year after launching an investigation, with 45% of payments made for seating that would have been put together anyway.

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