Win for low-cost carriers at EU court

Budget airlines cleared to continue with business model

Low-cost carriers have been cleared by Europe’s Court of Justice to continue with their business model – adding revenue with additional fees for baggage and seating.

Additional charges for things like checked-in luggage, overweight bags, priority boarding and allocated seating give budget airlines a large and growing proportion of their total revenues, but they are criticised by consumers and rival airlines as “hidden” charges.

Yet the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg ruled that fees for checking in luggage were justified – overruling a Spanish judgement that had upheld a complaint against low-cost airline Vueling, now part of International Airlines Group.

“Spanish law requiring airlines to carry checked-in baggage without a surcharge infringes EU law,” the European Court of Justice said. “The processing and storing of checked-in baggage is likely to lead to additional costs for the airline, which is not the case for carrying hand-baggage. Furthermore, the extent of the liability of the carrier for damage to baggage is greater when baggage is checked in than when it is not.”

The Vueling case had been brought by a passenger who complained about a €40 charge for two pieces of luggage on a trip between La Coruna and Amsterdam four years ago. The original judgement agreed and fined Vueling €3,000. But another Spanish court asked the European Court of Justice to look into whether this complied with EU legislation.


[photo courtesy Vueling]


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