Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the Advertising Standards Authority.
The ASA receives a significant number of complaints about the availability of flights and other travel products, such as accommodation, at the prices quoted in marketing communications.
- Ensure “lead-in” and promotional prices don’t mislead
- Don’t mislead when prices are destination specific
- Take care when making “from” and “up to” price claims
- Ensure prices are accurate when search criteria has already been selected
- Take care when working with third parties
Ensure “lead-in” and promotional prices don’t mislead
Marketers should be able to demonstrate adequate availability of flights and other travel products at the lead-in price; consumers should have a reasonable chance of obtaining the products at the advertised price (Travel Up Ltd, 14 December 2011). Marketers must not exaggerate the availability of prices at the lead-in or promotional price, or mislead by including contradictory small print.
Don’t mislead when prices are destination specific
Marketers should make clear the destinations to which quoted prices relate and that a promotional price applies to selected flights on certain routes, for example, if this is the case.In 2013, the ASA considered that the claim “Just pay taxes and charges on return flights” was misleading, because it implied every seat would be included in the promotion, when it applied to selected flights only (Flybe Ltd, 4 September 2013).
Similarly, the ASA ruled against the claim “Europe one way from £49*”, because they considered that it implied one could travel to any destination in Europe from the stated price. Marketers are reminded that small print must not contradict claims (both explicit and implied) in the body copy, which was the case in this instance (Deutsche Lufthansa AG, 30 October 2013). The ASA also ruled against the claim "ANY WEEKEND ANYWHERE SALE, SAVE UP TO 33%", considering it an absolute claim, accompanied by contradictory small print (Hilton International Hotels (UK) Ltd, 2 April 2014).
Take care when making “from” and “up to” price claims
In the past the ASA has applied a rule of thumb that 10% of the products or services advertised should usually be available at the "from" price based on the 2010 BIS Pricing Practices Guide. In 2016 the CTSI published new Guidance For Traders on Pricing Practices. This new guidance states that, when using “from”, advertisers must ensure that a significant proportion of the product or service is avaliable at the lead in fare.
Whilst the current guidance no longer uses the 10% rule, and instead states that a significant proportion should be available, it offers no further guidance on what is considered a significant proportion, and the ASA will investigate this on a case by case basis.
In the absence of “from” or “up to” in front of a price claim, consumers are likely to interpret the claim as meaning all products will be made available at the discounted price (De Vere Group Ltd, 2 July 2014).
The availability of a product at the “from” price should be spread evenly across the advertised travel period and marketers should make clear the specific travel period to which an offer relates (Village Hotels & Leisure Ltd, 14 August 2013 and British Airways Holidays Ltd, 31 October 2012). For example, the claim “Holidays available from May to October 2013,” is unlikely to be acceptable if holidays are not available in each month from May to October.
Significant conditions of offers and promotions, including any exclusions, should be stated clearly and prominently. The ASA ruled on a website which stated, “up to 40% off all flights...offer ends midnight Tuesday...travel from April to July...” because the offer only applied to flights from Birmingham, Cardiff, East Midlands and Manchester, the claim was likely to mislead (bmibaby Ltd, 25 June 2008).
Ensure prices are accurate when search criteria has already been selected
In 2013, a complainant challenged whether an ad stating “£12 to £94 single” was misleading, because they were unable to find a £12 ticket. The ASA considered that most consumers would expect that price claims appearing after search criteria had been selected would relate specifically to their needs. It ruled that the marketer should ensure that only prices which are available for journeys meeting the search criteria are served to the consumer (First Greater Western Ltd, 1 May 2013).
Take care when working with third parties
If you work with third parties, base your claims on prices provided by them and have no control over price availability, see Travel marketing: Working with third parties.
Updated 9 June 2016