On 23 June 2017, following an unfair commercial practice, British Airways and Etihad have been sanctioned by the Italian Competition and Market Authority for a total of one million euros.
The two airlines failed to inform consumers of the existence, conditions and limits of the so called “no-show rule” during the online purchase of return flight or sequential plane tickets. The “no-show rule” is a rule requiring the cancellation of the return flight or of the next flight of the ticket already purchased, or the recalculation of the original fee paid, if the passenger does not show up for the outward flight boarding, or, if the ticket is multi-way, for the earlier flight boarding. In the past, the Italian Competition Authority considered that the application of the “no show rule” was legitimate, but only if accompanied by adequate information to customers, or declined by airlines, taking into account both their commercial interests and the interests of consumers. This approach was also endorsed by the Italian State Council in the Alitalia case.
Therefore, the Italian Competition Authority sanctioned British Airways and Etihad for the failure to provide a suitable procedure for informing the passenger on the possibility of obtaining, at no extra cost, the return flight or the multi-way trip following flight, also in case of missed outward flight or earlier flight.
At the same time, Emirates, Iberia and Klm, also subjects to proceedings following the non-respect of consumer rights in the application of the “no-show rule”, undertook to properly inform consumers about the “no-show rule” and to set up a procedure to allow passengers to enjoy the next flights at no additional costs, with the only burden of promptly information about the non-use of the outward flight or the previous segment scheduled in the ticket already purchased. The Italian Competition Authority has considered those commitments valid.