Are consumers being ripped off on airfare prices?

There has been much talk recently about travellers and consumers being “ripped off” by travel agents with many alarming publications in the travel industry by online retailers. This has resulted in a recent response from the SATC (South African Travel Centre) to set the record straight.

Although the average consumer is only aware of fare prices between economy, business and first class seats, there is a complex system used by the airlines to determine how the available seats are priced in order to ensure each flight is economically viable for the airline. This results in many fares existing within each of these classes.
Specific rules for fares are attached to each fare type allowing for various benefits to the passenger, such as the ability for the traveller to make changes to the ticket. Some fares do not incur penalties for changes while some fares within the same travel class will incur penalties for changes.
This principle also applies to other flexibilities and benefits for the traveller including refunding of tickets ñ from fully refundable to non refundable or cancellation penalties; specific restrictions to day of travel; minimum and maximum stays and last minute changes.

The Consumer Protection Act (CPA) is one of the key role players in ensuring consumers are protected against harmful transactions.
The CPA requires that each fare type on each flight has a set of restrictions and individual flexibility which needs to be explained clearly to the consumer upon purchase. This applies to online travel companies as well as travel agents and it is important for the consumer to make sure they have all the relevant information.

Consumers should be aware of all the restrictions on the fare level they have purchased to prevent any surprises, and it is the consumers responsibility to ensure they have this information prior to purchase.