The CAA has launched a review into airlines’ terms and conditions after research found 40% of consumers do not read the small print when booking a flight.
Many consumers were unaware they had to pay to print off boarding passes or could have their return flight cancelled if they did not take the outbound flight.
The CAA is working with airlines to assess how visible and easy to understand terms and conditions are. It will publish its findings in the autumn.
Chief executive Richard Moriarty said: “We did some research in 2016 which found that 40% of consumers don’t read any of the terms at all, and those that did found it difficult to do so.
“Consumers considered that some terms could cause a particularly unpleasant surprise, such as having to pay to print a boarding pass, or having a return flight cancelled if they did not take the outbound flight.
“We think it is important that consumers are not caught out by these terms. Our review is looking at how prominent these terms are, how transparent they are and any restrictions or charges applied by the airline.”
Commenting on the independent Airline Insolvency Review following the collapse of Monarch, Moriarty said it was “right” the government recognised the “unsatisfactory state of affairs” but warned it could lead to huge change for the industry.
“Although our delivery of the Monarch repatriation exercise was an operational success, it really highlighted the troubling policy question of the differing protection available if you buy a package holiday compared with if you buy an airline seat in isolation.
“The government has rightly recognised that this is an unsatisfactory state of affairs and the purpose of the review is to advise on how airline insolvency can be better managed.
“But it’s wider than that. The scope also extends to travel companies, and how the insolvency protection is to be provided.
“It is early days yet, but it has the potential to lead to very far‑reaching change in how insolvency protection is provided for travel in the UK, so I would urge you to engage with it.”