THE INTRODUCTION OF CREDIT card fees by Lufthansa has been met with contempt by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA).
The association believes the new fees will cause confusion, increase cost and reduce transparency. The Lufthansa Group announced in August its plan to start charging for bookings made via a travel agent using a credit card. The fee will vary depending on the route.
All the airlines within the Lufthansa Group, including Bmi and Swiss, will introduce the charge. The GBTA raised its concerns over the new fees at an advocacy group meeting attended by senior buyers from the European business travel community.
Hans-Ingo Biehl, chairman of the GBTA Europe Advocacy Group and executive director of VDR, the GBTA's German partner, said there were concerns over where the charge will be displayed during the booking process so bookers understand the total trip cost at the point of sale.
"We understand airlines re-visit business models but our primary concern is whether these charges are only presented at the end of the booking when by rights it should be at the fare comparison stage at the beginning of the booking process," he said.
"We have seen these credit card charges being introduced sporadically across Europe by carriers in the last few years. The Lufthansa move adds considerably more cost and confusion to buyers in the markets affected."
Biehl also raised concerns over the implications to contracts in the middle of existing contractual periods.
"This will naturally form part of our feedback to the European Commission as part of their review of ancillary fees," he added.
A Lufthansa spokesman responded to Biehl's comments saying the airline group was "only following what most other European carriers already have in place".
"Transparency is certainly important to us and we will make sure that consumers know about any charges from the beginning," he said.