ASA Ruling on Ryanair Ltd
27 April 2011
Holidays and travel
Number of complaints:
a. A press ad for Ryanair featured a woman sun bathing on a beach and stated "FOR LOW FARES IN 2011 BOOK AT RYANAIR.COM SALE (TRAVEL FEB-MAR) ONE WAY, FROM £8. BOOK TO THE SUN NOW! RYANAIR". Small print stated "Book until midnight 10.01.11. Subject to availability. Terms and conditions apply, see Ryanair.com for details. Fares exclude optional fees/charges. Flights from London (Stansted).
b. A second press ad for Ryanair flights to Dublin stated "FLY RYANAIR one way from £27.99". Small print stated "Book until midnight 21.12.10. Travel before 31st December. Subject to availability. Terms and conditions apply, see Ryanair.com for details. Fares exclude optional fees/charges. Flights from London (Gatwick and Stansted).
1. Two complainants challenged whether the ads were misleading because they believed it was not possible to book a flight at the prices quoted because a non-optional online check-in fee of £6 was always added.
2. One of the complainants also challenged whether the claim "BOOK TO THE SUN NOW!" in ad (a) was misleading because he believed there were no flights available for £8 to destinations that would be warm in February or March.
CAP Code (Edition 12)
1. Ryanair Ltd (Ryanair) stated that the online check-in fee was included in all of their advertised fares. They provided information that showed customers were able to book the flights advertised in ad (a) at the promotional price, without incurring an additional online check-in fee. They said the fare listed in ad (b) was not available on the day the complainant tried to book due to a system error when loading the fares.
2. They pointed out that the ad stated "Book to the sun now". They said the promotion included a range of destinations, including some that had significant daytime sunshine during February and March.
1. Upheld (in relation to ad (b) only)
The ASA noted Ryanair claimed all their advertised fares included the online check-in fee. We also noted the footnote to ad (b) stated "Fares exclude optional fees/charges.
We noted the information submitted by Ryanair in relation to ad (a), showed that customers had been able to book flights at the promotional price without incurring an additional online check-in fee by choosing a flight that offered "Free online Check in". We also noted that the general conditions stated on Ryanairs website stated "An online check-in fee applies to all reservations except in respect of certain promotional fares". While we acknowledged that an additional online check-in fee applied in many cases, we accepted that the advertised fare of £8 was available to some customers who were able to take advantage of the "Free online check-in" offer. Because of this, we concluded that ad (a) was not misleading.
We noted that the footnote to ad (b) stated "Fares exclude optional fees/charges". We therefore considered that, for the fare to be advertised exclusive of "optional" fees/charges, consumers would expect it to be possible to obtain a flight for the advertised fare of £27.99 without the addition of a check-in fee. Because Ryanair told us initially that the fare in ad (b) had not been available due to a system error, we asked them to demonstrate that the advertised fare of £27.99 had been available to consumers without a check-in fee. We were concerned, however, that, their submissions did not show any flight had been sold for a total cost of £27.99 or clarify adequately how the £27.99 fare could be achieved. Because of this we considered that the claim "FLY RYANAIR one way from £27.99" was unsubstantiated and therefore misleading.
On this point we investigated ad (a) under the CAP Code (Edition12) rules 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading advertising) and 3.17 and 3.18 (Prices) but did not find it in breach.
On this point ad (b) breached CAP Code (Edition12) rules 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading advertising) and 3.17 and 3.18 (Prices).
We noted Ryanair claimed the promotion included a range of destinations which enjoyed significant daytime sunshine in February and March. We noted the average daily sunshine hours of the destinations quoted ranged from three to six hours. We noted the maximum temperatures of the destinations, were between 11°C and 14°C for the warmest three destinations; between 6 °C and 9 °C for most of the destinations and between 0 °C and 4 °C for the coldest destination.
We considered that the average consumer would infer from the claim "Book to the sun now" and the image of the woman sunbathing, in a bikini, with a cocktail, that the promotion included fares to destinations warm enough to sunbathe in swimwear during the promotional period. Because we understood this was not the case, we concluded that the ad was misleading.
On this point, ad (a) breached CAP Code (Edition12) rules 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading advertising).
The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told Ryanair to ensure that they held substantiation to demonstrate that prices featured in their ads were genuine and could be obtained by consumers without the addition of non-optional fees and charges.
Adjudication of the ASA Council (Non-broadcast)