CONSUMER ALERT: Beware of deceptive fees when booking flights

CONSUMER ALERT: Beware of deceptive fees when booking flights

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - If you plan on flying to see family over the holidays, you might be buying your flight soon.

There’s something to keep an eye out for if you’re booking the reservation online.

One man is sharing his experience to warn other consumers.

Nick Gebbia was booking a flight through Kayak, an internet travel search engine, when the site provided a number of flight options including some third-party booking websites.

He chose a flight through a company named FlyFar. Gebbia booked his flight, then weeks later he noticed an extra $65 charge on his credit card statement.

He reached out to a customer service representative to find out what the charge was.

“What they’re charging you for is telling them that your preference is for window or aisle seat," Gebbia explained. "It’s not even like choosing your actual seat and they don’t guarantee that you can get it either.”

Gebbia said something didn’t feel right about the situation so he reached out to the company with questions.

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“I emailed with the company, with FlightNetwork I guess, or with FlyFar, and they sent me these still images showing the seat selection window with the price option," he said."But obviously, in the still images, it doesn’t capture the fact that the window closes immediately once you make a selection. So it was very misleading from them.”

He made this video to purchase a dummy flight to simulate the booking process and to show other consumers what they might encounter when booking a flight through FlyFar or FlightNetwork.

“They sent me these screenshots of basically where you make the seat selection and they show that the fee is listed there but this is exactly the thing that disappears within less than two seconds when you actually click on your selection,” he said. "Then the fee isn’t listed anywhere else. So unless you catch it within those two seconds you’re not going to know that you have this extra fee.”

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“I just got frustrated by the whole process honestly and they sent me these images basically showing that I should have known that I was going to be paying this fee and I was like somehow I didn’t know about it and so I wanted to kind of figure out what was going on. So I looked into it a little bit," he explained.

Carmen Million, CEO and President of the Better Business Bureau of South Central Louisiana, shared these tips to prevent other consumers from being the next victim.

  • Read the fine print.
  • Beware of any window or screen that appears during the booking process.
  • Research each fee associated with your flight purchase. Make sure each charge is listed out so you know what it is.

“If you are on the site and it directs you to a different pop up or whatever you need to stop right there, and call the company and do more investigative work because you never want to respond to a pop up," said Million. “Because you really don’t know where it’s going. If you’re going to make those charges we always recommend that you use a credit card. That way if you dispute it you have a better chance of getting your money back or getting it credited without being out of pocket immediately.”

Gebbia was persistent and eventually received a partial refund from the company.

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“The main lesson is just be careful. You can’t always assume that even with pretty big companies that seem to be somewhat well known, you can’t always trust that they’re going to have your best interest at heart so you just kind of have to be careful," said Gebbia.

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