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Airline phone booking charges 'discriminating' against older people, watchdog warns

Mike Wright
Which? called the charges

Airlines are 'discriminating' against older travellers by charging extra to book over the phone, Which? has warned.

An investigation by the consumer watchdog found that holidaymakers were being hit with surcharges of up to £20 for not booking flights online.

Which? called the practice a “subtle form of discrimination” against older people, who are travelling more than previous generations.

Research by Which? found that for bookings made over the phone, Ryanair and TUI added a £20 surcharge, easyJet £15 and British Airways £10.

Rory Boland, Which? Travel, editor said: “The travel industry must urgently address this problem and stop penalising older generations who are more active and more determined than ever before.”

Following the findings, TUI UK said it charged additional fees to “cover the administrative costs” of the call centres that handled the bookings. 

A spokesman for easyJet said: “We always encourage passengers to book online and those who use our telephone service are clearly informed of the online discount at the beginning of the call. Discounts on this are available on a separate line for passengers who require special assistance.”

The figures come as Which? found that older holidaymakers were being hit with increasing travel insurance costs, even when they had no health issues to declare.

Researchers found that for typical 15-day stay, premiums leap from £30 for a 64-year-old to more than £60 for someone aged 70 in good health. 

Mr Boland added: “While many 70-year-olds might accept they would have to pay more for their travel insurance than someone who is 25, perfectly healthy older people are missing out on travelling in their golden years due to spiralling premiums.”